Benedict shows core of priesthood is being 'immersed in God,' pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters

By Carol Glatz

CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to retire and live a life fully
dedicated to prayer represents one of the most important lessons he gives the
world’s priests, Pope Francis said.

retirement, Pope Benedict shows “in an even clearer way” the core of
priestly ministry is a life fully immersed in God, something “that
deacons, priests and bishops must never forget,” Pope Francis said in a
written preface to a new book.

primary and most important service is not the management of ‘day-to-day
business,’ but praying for others without interruption, body and soul, exactly
like the pope emeritus does today — constantly immersed in God.”

new book, “To Teach and Learn God’s Love,” was to be released in
German, Spanish and Italian June 29 — the 65th anniversary of Pope Benedict’s
ordination to the priesthood. Pope Francis was scheduled to join Pope Benedict
celebrating the anniversary during an audience June 28 in the Apostolic Palace.

new book, a collection of homilies focusing on the priesthood, was to be published
in English by Ignatius Press. Cardinal Ludwig Muller, prefect of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote the book’s introduction.

the book’s preface, Pope Francis said every time he reads his predecessor’s
writings, it becomes more and more clear how Pope Benedict followed and still
practices a “theology on his knees.”

his knees because, before being a tremendous theologian and teacher of the
faith, you see that he is a man who truly believes, who truly prays. You see
that he is a man who embodies holiness, a man of peace, a man of God.”

“exemplarily embodies the heart of all priestly action,” which is to
be deeply rooted in God, he said.

a strong, constant relationship with Christ nothing is true and all
organizational prowess and all “presumed intellectual superiority, all
money and all power prove useless,” Pope Francis wrote. Without Christ
everything becomes routine, priests just draw a paycheck, bishops turn into
bureaucrats and the church becomes an NGO that is ultimately
“superfluous,” Pope Francis wrote.

Benedict renounced “the active exercise of the Petrine ministry” and
fully dedicated himself to prayer, the pope said. “It is perhaps today, as
pope emeritus, that he gives us more clearly than ever one of his greatest
lessons of ‘theology on his knees.'”

his witness, His Holiness Benedict XVI shows us what true prayer is — not the occupation
of some people held to be particularly devout and maybe considered little
suitable for solving practical problems,” not something to do off-hours or
during one’s “free-time,” not something meant to soothe one’s
conscience and not a means for getting from God what “we believe we

This book tells us and Benedict XVI gives witness that prayer is the decisive
factor” and it is what the church and the world needs now more than ever,
he wrote. “Without prayer, the world very quickly loses not only its
bearings but also the authentic source of life.”

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