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Conference on anniversary of Benedict’s death focuses on legacy defined by love of Christ

Friends, scholars, and former colleagues of Pope Benedict XVI gathered in the Campo Santo Teutonico in Vatican City from Dec. 30–31 for a two-day conference to reflect on the late pope’s life and rich theological legacy on the occasion of the one-year anniversary of his death.

Touching upon a wide range of themes, from his early life to his extensive theological corpus that covered the virtues of hope and love, the liturgy, and the life of Christ, the common thread uniting his work and life was a deep Christocentrism, which was made tangible in the Eucharist.

“When he spoke his final words ‘Lord, I love Thee’ at the end of his life, he said it all. He was expressing the fact that this love is stronger than death and that he remained in this love even in the moment of death,” Father Ralph Weimann said to the attendees gathered together for his lecture titled “Death and Eternal Life — Benedict XVI.”

“His parents’ testimony of faith, the participation in the holy Eucharist, the instruction in the faith, and the truth of the faith were not just gimmicks or nice customs for him but the key to understanding human existence. He wrote in his memoirs that this was why he wanted to serve Christ in his Church. At the same time, he wanted to fight for a better world, which would be better when God came into life,” Weimann said.

Noting that this was a theme that Benedict grappled with extensively both as cardinal and pope, Weimann added that “it had become clear to him that we can only stand before God at the end of our lives if we have held onto the truth and remained in love.”

Cardinal Kurt Koch, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, expressed that for Christians death is not an end but is defined by love of Christ and hope in eternal life.

“Pope Benedict has described this truly Christian hope in these profound words: ‘I am definitively loved and whatever happens to me — I am awaited by this Love,’” Koch said.

“This description of eternal life is not surprising when you consider that for Pope Benedict, God is that love, with which he encounters us humans and which he has definitively revealed in his Son, Jesus Christ,” the Swiss cardinal reflected.

For the late pope, his deep commitment to scholarship was not only a way to build an intellectual understanding of God but his attempt to make God accessible, which “became tangible for him in its most concrete form of expression: the holy Eucharist,” Weimann observed during his lecture.

“Anyone who got to know Pope Benedict — even in the last years of his life — knows what this means. He had lived in the presence of God. This was the reference point of his life, the source from which he drew. God was as real to him as fellow human beings are to us. He spoke to him as one speaks to a good friend who is also God,” Weimann added.

Read more at Catholic World Report 

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