Close to 200 Cardinals from around are gathering in Rome this week to take part in a Congress on the Pontificate of Pope John Paul II. The meeting, which is taking place in the Synod Hall of the Vatican, will continue until Saturday.
In his opening remarks, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Dean of the College of Cardinals and Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told the prelates the Holy Father has taught us to follow Jesus in a world that resists His call.
Cardinal Ratzinger gave thanks to God "for giving us this shepherd who confirms us, his brothers, in the faith in a time filled with confusion and danger."
"At a time when so many no longer wish to follow the Lord" because His words seem to hard, the Pope, echoing the words of Peter, tells us, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life."
"The Holy Father's entire Pontificate seems to be one great action whose purpose is to make these words and this decision present and operative in us," he added.
Cardinal Ratzinger invited his brother Cardinals and the entire Catholic world to give thanks to God for this Pontificate. "Our first expression of thanks should be prayer, thanksgiving to God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass."
He also said that this thanksgiving "should be accompanied by attentiveness to the Pope's message and commitment to following Christ."
"For this reason a renewed reflection on the visionary thought of the Holy Father could be an adequate form of thanksgiving," he added, recalling the 14 encyclicals "that began with a three-part consideration on the Holy Trinity and then developed major themes on the Church, the missions, Mariology, social issues, dialogue with the modern world, and faith and reason."
"These days can be an invitation to re-read the important writings of this Pontificate and with renewed vigor, transform them into pastoral action."