Thursday, 13 May 2010
Souvenir Sheet His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI visits Portugal
Maxi Card His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI visits Portugal
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI will be visiting Portugal. It is not the first time that a Pope will be among us: different people but the same ministry…We are thus invited to reflect upon a Pope’s mission, which has been the same, continuously, as stated 2000 years ago, and the character of the person to whom this mission is entrusted.
And what defines the mission of a Pope? Certainly also owing to the influence of history, public opinion is prone to define it as the supreme power or the supreme authority of the Catholic Church. That, as a matter of fact, is the definition given by the scholastic tradition: Suprema Potestas. The Second Council of the Vatican abandoned this kind of language, talking about the “consecration for a mission”. The communion of love is the driving principle that presides over the organization of the Catholic Church. All baptized make up a communion; the Bishops, successors of the Apostles, constitute a Council, and they form a communion; each Bishop communicates the apostolic priesthood to the presbyters and forms a Council with the latter, and they also form a communion.
The communion of the Bishops, in the Episcopal Council, successor of the Council of the Apostles, is the principle of unity of the Church as a whole, in faith and in love. Jesus gave Peter the mission of being the link to that communion, the last point of reference of the demands of faith and love…The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, the first among Catholic Churches, since it was created on the foundations of Peter and Paul. Peter’s ministry was, from the very beginning, awarded to the Bishop of Rome. He is thus the grantor of the unity and of the communion of love with all the Bishops and with the Churches they preside over. The Church is universal, because it seeks the universality of the communion.
This Pope, however, has a name and a personal history. His name is Joseph Ratzinger, he is German and he experienced the drama of World War II. He is also one of the greatest theologians of the 20th Century, distinguished by having exerted his academic mission in a State University, a special feature of German organization, which gave him the opportunity to confront Theology as a reflection on faith against all other sciences and areas of knowledge. The rationality of faith and the place of reason in the religious experience are until this day permanent dimensions of his Teaching. An expert on Scholasticism, he was not captured by it, almost certainly owing to the in-depth study of Saint Augustine who places the search for the truth in the understanding of human existence. The search for truth and its relation with charity is never restricted to a philosophical-theological reflection, but the opening up to the density of human existence, or rather to the drama of human existence that has its inspiring source in the life of Jesus Christ. His artist’s sensitivity makes him foresee this search for understanding the existence as the opening up to beauty. After all, what we find in the Church is, above all, an experience of beauty.
† JOSÉ, Patriarch Cardinal
Issue Date: 2010/05/10
Design: Francisco Galamba
Photos: Fernando Guerra, Photo Service – L’Osservatore Romano
Acknowledgments: Patriarcado de Lisboa, Embaixada de Portugal junto da Santa Sé, Secretaria de Estado Apostólica (Vaticano)