Pope Francis, Benedict in historic encounter

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In this photo by the Vatican paper L’Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis meets Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in Castel Gandolfo Saturday, March 23, 2013. Pope Francis traveled to Castel Gandolfo to have lunch with his predecessor Benedict XVI in a historic melding of the papacies that has never before confronted the Catholic Church. The Vatican said the two popes embraced on the helipad. In the chapel where they prayed together, Benedict offered Francis the traditional kneeler used by the pope. Francis refused to take it alone, saying “We’re brothers,” and the two prayed together on the same kneeler. AP

VATICAN CITY– Pope Francis and his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, met at Castel Gandolfo, their first since the latter stepped down from the papacy on February 28 because of old age.

The new pope, who was installed on March 19, flew by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence where Benedict has been staying while his retirement home in the Vatican, Mater Ecclesiae, is being refurbished.

They would have lunch and meet until the afternoon, according to the Vatican press office.

It was the two men’s first meeting since Benedict bade goodbye to the College of Cardinals on Feb. 28. Earlier, on Feb. 11, Benedict made the shocking announcement that he was resigning the papacy at the end of the month because he didn’t have any more the physical and mental strength to continue in the office.

The historic meeting of the two has been highly anticipated since no situation has obtained in recent history of two popes co-existing, although one bears only the title and not the authority.

The last pope to resign was Celestine IX in 1294, a monk who had been pulled out of his hermitage in the Apennines to become pope by cardinals who felt he was the right man for the job. He resigned five months later, giving way to Boniface VIII, who had him imprisoned, fearful that people loyal to the former pope would provoke a schism.

Like Celestine, Benedict said he was retiring to a life of prayer and contemplation.

Irish theologian Fr. Paul O’Callaghan of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome rejected observations that there are now two popes. “When Pope Benedict renounced the papacy, it was as if he had died,” he said.

In his last speech as pontiff the day he ended his papacy, Benedict told the cardinals, including then Buenos Aires Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, that the Church was “a living reality” that continues to operate through history.

Apparently Benedict was saying that the Church would continue even without him as pope. “Through the Church, the Mystery of the Incarnation lives on forever,” he said. “Christ continues to walk through the epochs and in all places.”

Since then, the two men have kept in contact by phone, first, on March 13, when Bergoglio, having been elected by the papal conclave and having chosen the name Francis as his papal name, called up the former pope; and most recently, last March 19, when the new pope was installed during the Solemnity, or feast, of Saint Joseph, and he called up again to greet Benedict, whose Christian name is Joseph Ratzinger, the namesake of the saint.

During the second call, according to the Vatican press office, Pope Francis “again…  declared his, and the Church’s, gratitude for the pope emeritus’ service.” Benedict in turn reportedly assured “his successor of his continued closeness in prayer.”

The two seem to have taken pains to show continuity in the Petrine ministry.

In his first address to the diplomatic corps last Friday, Pope Francis made mention of Benedict in explaining that while he might have taken the name of St. Francis, who was known for his embrace of poverty and simplicity, in order to make clear the Church’s unity with poor people, there’s also the problem of spiritual poverty.

Francis made clear that spiritual poverty had something to do with the moral bankruptcy and relativism of rich nations.

“But there is another form of poverty”, said the new pope. “It is the spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries seriously. It is what my much-loved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the ‘tyranny of relativism’, which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples.”

Benedict left behind unfinished business, such as the rehabilitation of the schismatic Society of St. Pius X, the traditionalist movement founded by the late Swiss Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre that disagreed with the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and which broke from Rome in the late 1980’s.

It had been anticipated before he stepped down that Benedict would restore relations with the schismatic church, but he eventually left it to the next pope to decide the matter.

Meanwhile, it was announced that Pope Francis will break tradition and hold the traditional Maundy Thursday afternoon service, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, not at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, where it is usually held, but the Casal del Marmo jail for minors on the outskirts of Rome.

During the service, the Vatican press office said, the pope will wash and kiss the feet of 12 people to commemorate the Jesus’ washing of the feet of his apostles with whom he shared supper on the night before he died.

The Vatican press office said that as Archbishop Bergoglio, the pope visited the Casal del Marmo in 2007 to celebrate Mass in the Chapel of the Merciful Father.

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  • koneksyon_manila

    this photograph aches my heart with so much hope!!!! i am so lucky to witness this very peaceful, honest, sincere, GOD-blessed co-existence and spiritual cohabitation…..DEAR LORD, nurture the efforts and vision of POPE FRANCIS and the pious contemplation and prayers of BISHOP BENEDICT. AMEN…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OHOD5EA75DBBUH53UKLRXRK764 Mang Teban

    The rarity of having two popes in the Church is as eventful as there was in the Transfiguration of Jesus with Moses and Elijah. Jesus as God and Head of the Universal Church at the center brings forth the two prophets in a preview of what was to come. That Jesus came to fulfill the law and not to break it and as the realization of the prophecy and promise by God the Father in heaven that He shall send His only begotten Son – “Whosoever believes in him shall have eternal life.”

    Pope emeritus Benedict XVI has retired from the duty of a pope to dedicate himself to a life of prayer in solitude.On the other hand, new Pope Francis has the responsibility to “lead the flock” and bring people to believe in Jesus to attain salvation. The prevailing cynicism of some that the Church has become obsolete has happened before in earlier centuries. The “tyranny of relativism” has also existed previously. There is so much work to be done starting from our individual self-examination where we stand and to the communal spirit of helping one another not to fall into sin and stray away.

    Two popes doing what Saint Benedict calls “Ora et Labora” (Prayer and Work) as a guiding principle of living the faith. The former pope will be praying for the Church while the current pope will be working actively in tandem. Catholics must live their lives that way – praying fervently while working faithfully in the service of God and our neighbor. May the world transfigure in a life of holiness and leave the life of vanity and pride!

    • jpeter262

      You said:

      . . . .That Jesus came to fulfill the law and not to break it.

      If Jesus Christ did not break the law, why is it that the Catholic break the Ten Commandments — Idolatry and Sabbath Law in particular? The Catholic even rearranged the commandments to justify observance of Sun day as Lord’s day. The Other “Christians” follow the observance of Sun day and try to defend it in a different way.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/SPLUBLEOSERDBOIJTDOC6XIWGU mxsclxmxn

        oh i see. you seemed to be more knowledgeable than the doctors of the Church! may i know when did you start reading the bible and what educational achievements or philosophies do you have?

      • jpeter262

        None of the Apostles have any doctorate degree but they preached together with Jesus Christ with full authority. The truth is Jesus Christ was correcting the teachings of the Bible scholars at that time.

        Saul was killing the Christians until Jesus Christ blinded him. His name was changed to Paul. Jesus Christ teaches him personally. He ended
        up writing at list 14 books of the NT.

        It is not how long we study the Bible, neither our university achievements that counts, but it is when God allows us to understand
        the Bible – – the mind of God in writing.

        Even the donkey speaks if the message need to be sent.

        – – – “”And when the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam’s anger was aroused, and he struck the donkey with his staff. Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have abused me. I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!” (Num 22:27-29)

        – – – “”but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet. (2 Peter 2:16)

      • jpeter262

        For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? (1 Cor 1:19-20)

        For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 2 (1 Cor 1:26-28)

  • Vertumnus

    Pope Benedict looks frail! I’m afraid he doesn’t have much time left. I hope he enjoys his retirement. Once in a lifetime where two popes actually meet. I wish for Pope Benedict a happy retirement and for Pope Francis to have a positive, meaningful impact on the Catholic Church. Now if only the Philippine catholic church actually live up to their vow of poverty instead of living in luxury.

  • jonie

    The pope you are referring to in par. 6 is Celestino V.

  • Bisdak_kaayo

    Ito ang sabi ng Biblia

    Matthew 6:5-7
    New International Version (NIV)

    5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.

    Who is the most guilty of the religious groups in violating this commandment?

    Sa halip magtago at magsara ng kwarto tuwing magdarasal, nagpoprocession pa at gumagamit pa ng TROMPA sa kanilang pagsisiwalat sa kanilang pagdarasal sa madlang people.

    Which group is most guilty? Alam niyo na. While other religious groups are guilty as well, hindi po maikakaila kung anong grupo ang pinaka guilty sa lahat. The sins of other groups does not ERASE the sins of the Catholic Church. Sila daw ang na-una sa lahat na dominasyon ng Kristianismo. Naging good example nga ba sila?

    • Ana

      I think any religion should be respected…instead of being criticized. There is no perfect religion…neither of us… we only have perfect God Whom we all pray…

    • http://twitter.com/erncastillo ern

      And who among the newly born will learn to pray kung lahat ng nakakatanda ay nagtatago sa pagdarasal?

      Yan mga kagaya mo ang delikado…. interpret ka nang interpret as if you are a God-sent prophet. Do you know the real and particular intensions of God? Faith is believing and not twisting every word in the bible. Little knowledge is indeed dangerous.

      The bible itself has undergone transformations and translations to make it more understandable to the present generation. It was a delicate work among bible associations based on history and tradition. It is not for anybody to interpret or challenge based on your personal understanding. If your mind reaches out to anything not in conformity with the beliefs of others, better consult your elders….wag ka maggaling-galingan because your wisdom can only do so much. Do not fall into the trap of debating the contents and words of the bible….it is not a debatable thing. It’s either you believe or you do not….you must know the meaning of faith.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Guapo-Ini/100001213694992 Guapo Ini

        well said…kaya sa mga walang tamang masabi no comment nalang kayo, bawal ang pasaway

      • TinimbangNgunitKulang

        Yung mga gaya mo ang gustong gusto ng mga religious leaders or elders kuno. Lunok lang ng lunok ng sasabihin nila. Kaya tuloy tumagal ng libong taon. At dahil marami pa ring gaya mo, tatagal pa rin ng isa pang libo.

  • Bisdak_kaayo

    Who says you have to be affiliated with a religious organization created by humans in order to be saved?

  • igmat

    Other religion loves to smear anything to anyone not associated with them forgetting that the story above depicts two human beings who were chosen to lead the biggest denomination in the world to date. Obviously not everyone’s a fan but they deserve our respect just like our parents and grands and I believe that’s what the Christ truly represents. Tolerance if you can’t give love.

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