The great and holy Benedict XVI celebrates his 88th birthday today, and we wish him every grace and blessing and thank him for the extraordinary accomplishments of his papacy. There was no behind the scenes intrigue about changing unchangeable Catholic doctrine during his tenure. Rather, there was the unerringly faithful, elegant and clear teaching of an alter-Christi. The beloved Benedict is sorely missed and appreciated more with each passing year.
On this 88th birthday, we reprint our tribute posted on the Holy Father's 85th birthday.
Today is the 85th birthday of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and this week we will mark the 7th anniversary of his election to the Chair of Saint Peter. For this gentle, kind, brilliant, holy teacher and shepherd, we give thanks to God and pray that he continues as Christ's 265th Vicar on Earth for many more years.In these seven years, he has undertaken 23 international trips, including the first state visit by a Pope to England and Scotland (Pope John Paul II made a pastoral visit in 1982). He has made 26 pastoral trips throughout Italy. He has presided over 4 synods of bishops and 3 world youth days. In 3 encyclicals and in all of his many books, homilies, letters and addresses he has spoken powerfully, clearly and from the heart, to the heart. One of his frequent references to his predecessor and friendship with Christ provides a beautiful example:Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to Him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us?...And once again the Pope said: No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation....When we give ourselves to Him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life.His contributions to building the unity of the Church and healing old divisions have been monumental and historic. There has never been such friendship and collaboration with leaders of the Orthodox churches as there has been throughout this pontificate. Through his apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus he has provided a bridge through which thousands of Anglicans and other Protestants are entering the Church, while maintaining their own rich patrimony. Through his Apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum he has restored the Roman Church's own patrimony, ending nearly a half century of division and conflict and restoring reverence and beauty to sacred liturgy. And in the English-speaking world he has restored a faithful and reverent translation of the Roman Missal. He has been tireless in seeking reconciliation with those alienated by false interpretations and reckless innovations following the Second Vatican Council.Most importantly, his joyful, faithful and total submission to the service of Jesus Christ and His Church has inspired vibrant, new, evangelical growth throughout the universal Church that has also spawned a boom in religious and priestly vocations.For all of this and so much more, we wish Pope Benedict God's richest blessings, a happy birthday and heartily proclaim "Viva il Papa!"