Seven years ago today saw the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as the successor of St Peter. As soon as the votes were counted and Ratzinger was elected, an appointed cardinal moved in front of him and asked him if he accepts the election: Acceptanse electionem de te canonice factam in Summum Pontificem? (Do you accept your canonical election to Supreme Pontiff?) As soon as the candidate accepts, if already a bishop, is Pope; if not he assumes this supreme office as he is ordained.
Last Monday we celebrated Pope Benedict’s 85th birthday, we celebrated his gifts, intelligence, holiness and humility: his personal attributes that make him so dear.
Today we celebrate the office not the person. I feel uneasy when someone starts to praise a Pope as if to say that this one is so much better then the other one. Those elected to the Papacy are chosen by God just as we have been chosen to be disciples of the Lord: warts and all. We are all “work in progress”; popes included. The Pope is Peter; that is what we celebrate today. Seven years ago today this gift was renewed to the Church: “Where there is Peter there is the Church, and where there is the Church there is eternal life”, (Ubi Petrus ibi ecclesia, et ibi ecclesia vita eterna), goes a good saying attributed to St Ambrose. Today we celebrate our union with the Pope – our union with Peter. In these last 2000 years Peter had many faces and many temperaments, but he is still here, to guide and lead us. The Pope is the foundation stone of the Church and, throughout the centuries and up to the end of time he will be there suffering with the Church and rejoicing with the Church and governing the Church entrusted to him by Christ.
Today spare a prayer for the Pope, that God may grant him long life, wisdom, strength and holiness to continue ministering to us the Petrine Office as co-operator of the Truth!
As they say elsewhere: Viva il Papa!!!