February 2023: Editorial

A humble servant of the servants of God


Following the news of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on New Year’s Eve 2022, Archbishop Eamon Martin stated: ‘On a personal level, it was his characteristic humility and gentleness which struck me when I first met him.’ As only the second Pope in the Church’s history to resign his position and the first to do so of his own accord, Pope Benedict astonished both the Church and the world. His willing relinquishing of power and authority for the good of the Church had no precedent and remains in stark contrast to so many rulers who desperately cling to power with every weapon legal and otherwise at their disposal. That it was an act of humility above all was borne out in one of his late interviews by his friend Peter Seewald who asked him in 2016* if he missed being Pope to which Benedict responded:

Not at all, no! on the contrary, I am grateful to God for lifting this responsibility which I could no longer bear from my shoulders. I am grateful that I am now free humbly to walk with Him, to live among and be visited by friends.

For the last ten years of his life the Pope Emeritus offered up his sufferings for the good of the Church and the world and enjoyed the warm friendship of his successor Pope Francis who he admired as ‘someone who is very close to people, who stands with them, who is always among them – then, he confessed humbly– – ‘perhaps I was not truly among the people enough.’

Thousands of years ago, the prophet Micah declared that all God required of a human being was ‘To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ (Micah 6:8). Few have left us a more authentic example of humility as the late Pope Benedict XVI.

Ar dheis De go raibh a anam.

Benedict XVI Last Testament in his own words with Peter Seewald, Bloomsbury 2016


Paul Clayton-Lea