Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City released the following message on Dec. 31, upon the death in Vatican City of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who led the Church from 2005-13.
Pope Francis was to preside at the Funeral Mass on Jan. 5 in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
We now mourn the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, a wise shepherd who dedicated his life to Christ and the mission of the Church.
As we reflect on his impact on our world and our Church, the Diocese of Jefferson City joins Pope Francis and Catholics across the globe in prayer for our former pope.
Though we mourn his loss, we also thank God for his leadership and wisdom. The papacy of Pope Benedict XVI placed a powerful focus on the tenets of love, charity, truth and hope. He wrote that, “The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life.”
He also helped modernize our thinking about the important role of Catholic laity in the life of our Church, calling lay people “‘co-responsible’ for the Church’s being and acting.”
In communion with our global Church, the Diocese of Jefferson City will now participate in the traditions and customs of mourning the death of a pope. In the coming days, a funeral and burial will be held in Rome. Following the funeral, our diocese and all Catholics will observe nine official days of mourning, called the Novemdiales.
Public memorial Masses for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will be held during this time in each of our deaneries.
In mourning our loss, let us honor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI by striving for salvation in communion with one other. In his words:
“As Christians, we should never limit ourselves to asking: How can I save myself? We should also ask: What can I do in order that others may be saved and that for them, too, the star of hope may rise? Then I will have done my utmost for my own personal salvation, as well.”
As we mourn this great loss and move forward in faith, let us always keep these words close to our hearts.