Catholic World News

Benedict XVI: deceased cardinal had faith in Church, even in time of crisis

July 17, 2017

In a tribute to the late Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI praised the German prelate for his “conviction that the Lord does not leave his Church, even if at times the ship is almost filled to the point of shipwreck.”

The message from the retired Pontiff, which was read out at Cardinal Meisner’s funeral by Archbishop Georg Ganswein, suggested that Benedict saw the Church as enduring a time of crisis. Cardinal Meisner—one of the four cardinals who had submitted the dubia asking Pope Francis to clarify Amoris Laetitia—also perceived a crisis. Pope-emeritus Benedict recalled that Cardinal Meisner, who stepped down as Archbishop of Cologne in 2014, found it difficult to resign “at a time when the Church had a pressing need for shepherds who would oppose the dictatorship of the zeitgeist.”

In a candid passage of his message, Benedict wrote:

What struck me particularly in the last conversations with the Cardinal, now gone home, was the natural cheerfulness, the inner peace and the assurance he had found. We know that it was hard for him, the passionate shepherd and pastor of souls, to leave his office, and this precisely at a time when the Church had a pressing need for shepherds who would oppose the dictatorship of the zeitgeist, fully resolved to act and think from a faith standpoint. Yet I have been all the more impressed that in this last period of his life he learned to let go, and live increasingly from the conviction that the Lord does not leave his Church, even if at times the ship is almost filled to the point of shipwreck.

In his tribute to the deceased cardinal, Benedict mentioned that the circumstances of his death: “The breviary had slipped form his hands: he died while praying, his face on the Lord, in conversation with the Lord.”

The former Pontiff said that Cardinal Meisner, in his last days, had been encouraged by the many Catholics who made use of the sacrament of reconciliation, and especially by “the perceptible increase in Eucharistic adoration.”

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  • Posted by: jackbene3651 - Jul. 17, 2017 9:39 PM ET USA

    His reflections on the Eucharist in this message seem to contradict Pope Francis.

  • Posted by: dom6938 - Jul. 17, 2017 6:00 PM ET USA

    I've seen comments on other sites that there's some question about an exact interpretation of the clause about the ship being filled...to the point of shipwreck. Nevertheless, it seems that he has captured the sentiment of many with respect to that point if the general interpretations we're seeing are anywhere near accurate.