With pain, but also with the joy that comes from hope in heaven, the Shalom Catholic Community receives the news of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. On December 31, at 9:34 am (Rome time), he died at 95 years old, at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the Vatican. According to a statement from the Holy See Press Office we will receive more information about the funeral as soon as possible.
Benedict XVI was a great priest and theologian, with great contributions to the Church. In 2012 he approved the final version of our Statutes.
He had a relatively short pontificate, which lasted 8 years, from April 19, 2005 to February 28, 2013, when he officially resigned. In the official declaration of resignation – a historic moment for the Church – Benedict XVI motivated the decision with the fragility of advanced age and the physical and mental demands of the position.
Over time he earned seven doctorates, was able to communicate in ten languages. He was a great pianist and admirer of Beethoven’s works. By many he was recognized as “Mozart of Theology”.
Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger was born in Marktl an Inn, a small village in Bavaria, Germany, on April 16, 1927, to Joseph Ratzinger and Maria Ratzinger. In 1932 the family moved to Aschau. Already in his early years young Joseph began to show an inclination towards the priestly vocation.
In 1939, Joseph entered the minor seminary of Traunstein. With the outbreak of World War II, the seminary was closed and the building was used as a military hospital. During the war, he was forced to serve in the so-called Hitler Youth.
In 1943, aged 16, he was put in charge of air defense at the BMW factory on the outskirts of Munich. He was also in Unterföhrin, Gilching and north of Lake Ammer. He was hungry, cold and did heavy work. After being wounded, he deserted and went to the house. At the time, American forces had made their home a barracks and he was taken prisoner of war. He was released months after the end of the war, in 1945.
Pope Benedict XVI and the Shalom Catholic Community
On February 22, 2007, Shalom received from the Holy See, in Rome, the pontifical recognition of its statutes “ad experimentum” (trial period).
With a Pontifical recognition the Church approves the rules of life and statutes of an association of faithful, congregation or religious entity; it is the Church giving its recognition to a certain institution, confirming its communion with the Holy See”.
In 2012, the Statutes of the Shalom Catholic Community received their final approval. Benedict XVI, who was in the last year of his pontificate at the time, greeted with great affection the more than thousand missionaries who were in St. Peter’s Square, celebrating such an important step for the Community.
On that occasion he addressed the Shalom Catholic Community, ensuring his constant accompaniment in prayer. The Pope made a request to the missionaries, which was a word of prophecy for the Community in the following years:
“Be Joyful Instruments of God’s Love and Mercy”
He also expressed his hope that the approval of the Statutes would have been an encouragement for Shalom members to continue with enthusiasm to be witness of the Gospel.
A missionary spirit
The Pope’s request was the subject of Shalom prayer meetings in the following years, being of great importance for the growth of the Community, born to evangelize young people. After the approval of the Statutes, the Shalom Community, already present in several countries, expanded its action to even more places worldwide.
We know that the missionary spirit that invaded the hearts of many members of the Community after the Convention in Rome in 2012 was encouraged by the attentive and present shepherding of Benedict XVI, who observed the first steps of Shalom with the compassionate and hopeful gaze of a father, the gaze of Christ himself for us.