Pope Benedict’s Final Guidance to the Church

As I’m sure all readers of this are aware, Pope Benedict XVI went to his eternal reward recently. He provided very important leadership for the Church in a difficult time.

When a Pope first takes office, he writes a spiritual testament, which is not opened until his death. This is the guidance he wishes to give the Church after he dies. Recently, Benedict’s spiritual testament was published. I want to share a passage from it which is of great encouragement.

What I said before to my countrymen, I now say to all those in the Church who have been entrusted to my service: Stand firm in the faith! Do not let yourselves be confused! It often seems that science — the natural sciences on the one hand and historical research (especially exegesis of Sacred Scripture) on the other — are able to offer irrefutable results at odds with the Catholic faith. I have experienced the transformations of the natural sciences since long ago and have been able to see how, on the contrary, apparent certainties against the faith have vanished, proving to be not science, but philosophical interpretations only apparently pertaining to science; just as, on the other hand, it is in dialogue with the natural sciences that faith, too, has learned to understand better the limit of the scope of its claims, and thus its specificity. It is now sixty years that I have been accompanying the journey of Theology, particularly of the Biblical Sciences, and with the succession of different generations I have seen theses that seemed unshakable collapse, proving to be mere hypotheses: the liberal generation (Harnack, Jülicher etc.), the existentialist generation (Bultmann etc.), the Marxist generation. I saw and see how out of the tangle of assumptions the reasonableness of faith emerged and emerges again. Jesus Christ is truly the way, the truth and the life — and the Church, with all its insufficiencies, is truly His body. (Source)

Here Pope Benedict is reminding us to stand firm in the face of supposed scientific evidence or historical evidence which would seem to contradict scripture. This has been happening every generation for centuries, and each time it is discovered that either the scientific and historical evidence is wrong, or that it is not in conflict with the faith.

Joseph Ratzinger dedicated much of his life to responding to liberal textual criticism. Even if one does not agree with every conclusion he came to (he did most of this work as a private theologian), the work he helped the Church to do is of great importance. In his spiritual testament, we can now see that he is calling the Church to continue this task.

We founded the Creation Theology Fellowship to be a support for theologians and clergy in the study of creation. We hope to provide support by praying for all those studying creation and by promoting good projects on creation.

Most importantly, we must pray for the repose of Pope Benedict. The following prayer was released by Vatican News Service:

Father, eternal shepherd, hear the prayer of your people for your servant, Benedict, who governed your Church with love. In your mercy, bring him with the flock once entrusted to his care to the reward you have promised your faithful servants. May he who faithfully administered the mysteries of your forgiveness and love on earth, rejoice with you forever in heaven. In your wise and loving care, you made your servant teacher of all your Church. He did the work of Christ on earth. May your son welcome him into eternal glory. May your servant whom you appointed high priest of your flock be counted now among the priests in the life of your kingdom. Give your servant the reward of eternal happiness, and let your mercy win for us the gift of your life and love. May he rejoice in those gifts forever with your saints. Amen.

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