Manila (Agenzia Fides) - As in many other Asian countries, the Catholics in the Philippines are praying for Benedict XVI, who died on the morning of December 31 at the age of 95. "I wish to thank all of you who accompanied him in prayer and offered special Mass intentions for his peaceful passage into eternal life. We will fondly remember him, especially those among us bishops, who had been appointed by him to the episcopal ministry. Pope Francis is known as 'Pope of Mercy and Joy', Pope Benedict will be remembered as the 'Pope of Charity'. He began his episcopate with a profoundly theological encyclical entitled Deus Caritas Est", wrote Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, president of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, asking all the faithful to pray, "thank and pray for his eternal rest". The Bishop remarked that Benedict XVI "spent the last years of his life as an emeritus pope in solitude and contemplation, supporting the universal Church and Pope Francis spiritually with his prayers".
In Manila, Cardinal Jose Advincula, Archbishop of the city, led a special prayer of thanksgiving for the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on the evening of December 31, before New Year's Mass in Manila Cathedral. Manila Cathedral has also specially set up the Chapel of Christ the King, which houses a portrait of Benedict XVI, for worshipers who want to stop and offer prayers for the Pope Emeritus. In several dioceses, requiem masses and prayer vigils are scheduled in the coming days that will bring together thousands of faithful, also in conjunction with the funeral to be held in St. Peter's Square on January 5.
Those baptized in the Philippines recall that Benedict XVI, even though he was unable to visit the Philippines during his pontificate, always had the example of faith of Catholics in the Southeast Asian archipelago in his heart. In the text-interview with the German journalist and writer Peter Seewald, entitled "Last conversations" and published in 2016, Benedict XVI recognizes and cites the important role that the Filipino faithful can play in "bringing new dynamism to the Church" and reawakening the West from its "fatigue" and "forgetfulness of faith".
Furthermore, the baptized Filipinos joyfully recall the event of the celebration for the canonization of Filipino layman Saint Pedro Calungsod, catechist and martyr, when thousands of Filipino pilgrims gathered with the Pope in St. Peter's Square on October 21, 2012.
"May the example and the courageous testimony of Pedro Calungsod inspire the dear populations of the Philippines to proclaim the Kingdom of God with strength and win souls for God", said Benedict XVI in his homily during the canonization Mass. Furthermore, as the local Church recalls, it was Benedict XVI who elevated the Filipino Archbishops Gaudencio Rosales and Luis Antonio Tagle to the College of Cardinals.
The legacy that Filipinos keep in their hearts is that of "being a living Church" which, "founding itself in God, humanizes society and rediscovers the true destiny of humanity in solidarity", as Benedict XVI said to the Filipino Bishops on their ad limina visit in Rome in 2011. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 2/1/2023)
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