Benedict XVI (photo by the Joseph Ratzinger Foundation)

 :: Tuesday 01 September 2015

Ratzinger at mass with former pupils: “The epidemic of the heart leads to corruption”

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The Emeritus Pope said “inner hygiene” is key and “the truth, love and goodness that come from God, make man pure”

vatican insider staff

“The truth, love and goodness that come from God, make man pure and truth, love and goodness come together in the Word which liberates a world that no longer thinks of God from ‘forgetfulness’.” This was at the heart of the homily which the Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI pronounced during a mass he presided over this morning in the Teutonic Cemetery church in the Vatican. The mass was attended by members of the Schuelerkreis (Ratzinger’s “student circle”) and the New Schuelerkreis, who gathered at Castel Gandolfo in recent days to reflect on the theme “How to speak to God today”. The priest and philosopher Tomas Halik also participated. The news was posted on the Ratzinger Foundation website.


Does not the evil that afflicts us come from the outside? This was the essence of the question posed by the Emeritus Pope in his German homily. We need to be cleansed of all the impurity that exists out there: “We could respond to the many illnesses and sometimes epidemics that threaten us, by maintaining an external cleanliness,” Benedict XVI said. It is important to care for our exterior in this way so that death does not prevail, the Emeritus Pope said. But this is not enough, he added, because there is also “the epidemic of the heart” to consider, that inner epidemic that “leads to corruption and other filth, the kind of filth that drives man to think only of himself and not of goodness.” So, aside from worship, ethos, “inner hygiene” in other words, also plays a decisive role: “What does a pure man do? What is the real power of purification? How does one come to have a cleansed heart?” Benedict XVI asked.


“In another passage of the Gospel,” he continued, “the Lord says to his people: ‘You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you’.” So we become pure by means of the Word: “The Word is Jesus Christ himself and we come across the Word even in those who reflect It, those who show us the face of God and reflect his meekness, his humble heart, his simplicity, his lovingness, his sincerity.”


The mass was followed by a ceremony for the inauguration of the “Pope Benedict-Joseph Ratzinger Hall”, which the Pope Emeritus blessed. The ceremony took place in the buildings adjacent to the Teutonic Cemetery. In his introductory speech, Mgr. Hans Peter Fischer, Rector of the Teutonic College, announced that a ceremony will be held on 18 November to mark the opening of the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Roman Library. The library is entirely dedicated to the works and life of Joseph Ratzinger as a scholar and a Pope and is housed inside the Library of the Teutonic College and of the Roman Institute of the Gorres Society in the Vatican.


Present at today’s ceremony – amongst others – were cardinals Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna and Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Prefect of the Papal Household and personal secretary to Benedict XVI.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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