Abbot Hugh Allan, O.Praem.
Apostolic Administrator of the Falkland Islands and Superior of the Ecclesiastical Mission to St. Helena, Tristan Da Cunha and Ascension Island
Pope Benedict XVI RIP
Dear friends in Christ.
When I was a novice, I remember a religious sister telling me that Pope Paul VI was “her” Pope. He was the Pope she connected to the most and loved. It always puzzled me as a comment since the Pope is the pope is the pope! That was until the pontificate of Pope Benedict; then I understood her sentiments.
When he appeared on the balcony of St Peter’s, it was like a miracle. After the death of St John Paul, there was a deep anxiety and worry about who would come next. After St John Paul’s long tenure as Pope, who would the Cardinals elect to follow in the shoes of the fisherman? Who could possibly serve as the next Pope? Well, they chose a humble worker in the Lord’s vineyard. A great and good man. Someone who had faithfully served the Church for so many years.
Reading the works of Pope Benedict, there was always one overwhelming thought that would come to my mind, that this was someone who genuinely believed. As we hear in the gospel of St John, “This is the work of God, to believe in the one whom he has sent” (John 6.29). Pope Benedict truly did the work of God. He believed and he passed on that sense of belief in the Lord.
This was the overriding theme of the life and pontificate of Pope Benedict – he always pointed to Christ. There was no confusion, no chaos, just his clear and beautiful proclamation of Jesus Christ as our Lord and God. Even his resignation was, in a sense, his last act of pointing always to Christ.
Whether someone agrees with his choice or not, it took great humility to recognise that this is what he felt the Lord calling him to do.
As we mourn the death of our Pope Emeritus, a great man, a great theologian and a great Christian, we remember above all that he was the servant of the servants; that he gave his life in helping others come to know the one who loves us with a love beyond comprehension. He was, to the end, a true servant of our saviour, Jesus Christ.
Please pray for his soul as he goes from this life to eternal life. Pope Benedict was baptised in the Easter waters on Holy Saturday. May the Lord, who is the resurrection and the life, lead him to eternal rest and peace.
On a personal note, in echoing the words of that religious sister, Pope Benedict was “my” Pope and today, not only has the world seen the passing of a great man, but this poor sinner mourns the death of someone I loved very much.
With the assurance of my prayers and every blessing.
Abbot Hugh Allan, o.praem.