BREAKING: Archbishop Gustavo reflection on death of Pope Benedict XVI

Let us pray for the repose of the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who carried out the decisions of Vatican II with wisdom and contemplative prayer. He was the continuation of Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul I, and Pope John Paul II. In a way he was the mind of the Council, as he contributed to and put together so many documents. In his own writings he quoted Vatican II extensively. There was no “rupture” in the Church; Pope Benedict moved the teachings of the Council forward in his own style.

The Holy Father had a brilliant intellectual mind. His contributions in working with Pope John Paul II on leading the drafting committee of the Catechism of the Catholic Church are enormous. Pope Benedict also authored many important books which were superb in content and precise in research. Among these are the excellent Introduction to Christianity and Jesus of Nazareth series.

In addition, the pope emeritus visited Latin America in 2007 to open the fifth general conference of the Episcopal Council of Latin American bishops (CELAM) in Aparecida, Brazil. The document which resulted from that gathering — which was drafted by then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio – is a call for the Church to go out and search for new ways to proclaim the Gospel to all that still resonates to this day.

When I took part in the pallium Mass with the Holy Father on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in 2011, he told the new archbishops that the woolen band we received is a sign of communion in faith and love and in the governance of God’s people. The pope’s words rightly underlined the joyful task of building unity in the church. I daily remember that call from the successor of Peter, and continuously strive to be an instrument of the unity that Jesus wanted. When the pope placed the pallium on my shoulders, I told him of this desire for unity. The Holy Father responded, “San Antonio, Texas, yes!” Few words, but very meaningful.

Just a year later, in 2012, I was privileged to meet with Pope Benedict on two different occasions.

That spring the bishops from Texas and Region X – including Oklahoma and Arkansas – met with the pope for ad limina visits to discuss the state of our local churches with the Holy Father and Vatican officials. In the “Eternal City” the prelates renewed our commitment to the bond of charity with one another, and with the entire college of bishops, under the headship of the successor of Peter, Pope Benedict. During an audience with the Holy Father he focused on the Virgin Mary’s role in the Church, during her earthly life and beyond. He knew that with Mary’s help, many more will come to believe that Jesus is Lord — and that the truth He lived and proclaimed is taught by His Church today.

In the fall I was honored to participate in the Synod on Evangelization at the Vatican in which Pope Benedict sought recommendations as to how to communicate the Gospel in today’s contemporary culture; how we carry that message to people whose faith has gone lukewarm or entirely cold. In order that Jesus Christ’s salvation reach the whole world and transform it, I proposed to my brother bishops that the Synod humbly ask the Holy Father to consecrate the world to the Holy Spirit.

On Sunday, New Year’s Day, January 1, I will remember in a special way Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the 8 a.m. Spanish and 10 a.m. English liturgies at San Fernando Cathedral, and information regarding additional Masses for the Holy Father will be forthcoming.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon him. May the soul of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

By Today's Catholic Newspaper

Be an informed Catholic by subscribing to Today's Catholic Newspaper online! Save time by renewing or purchasing for yourself, friend, or family member. Click on the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of this page to find out more. #iamTodaysCatholic