In his homily for yesterday evening’s Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Altar of the Chair for the deceased pontiffs, Paul VI and John Paul I, Cardinal Ratzinger, Dean of the College of Cardinals, spoke of the mission and responsibility of the papacy, saying that truth and love are "the two poles of the mission entrusted to the successors of Peter."
"Guiding the flock of Christ and loving the Lord are the same thing," he said. "It is love of Christ that guides the sheep on the straight path and builds the Church."
He stated that this love was at the heart of Pope Paul’s vision of Vatican II and papal primacy; "All of us at the feet of Christ, to serve Christ, to serve the Gospel: The essence of Christianity is Christ - not a doctrine, but a person, and evangelizing is leading in friendship with Christ - to communion with the Lord Who is the true light of our lives."
Cardinal Ratzinger said that papal primacy "in its most intimate essence is not the exercise of power but is 'carrying the weight of others', it is the responsibility of love. And love is precisely the opposite of indifference with respect to others. ... The love of Christ is love for the poor, the suffering.”
“We know well that our Popes have been committed strongly against injustice, and for the rights of the oppressed, the powerless," he said.
"Love would be blind without truth," the cardinal stated. He noted that "the prayer after communion asks the Lord to allow the Supreme Pontiffs, His servants, 'to enter into full possession of the truth, in which, with apostolic courage, they confirm their brothers'.
“Paul VI and John Paul I confirmed, 'with apostolic courage', their brothers. At a time where we see Satan 'sift through' the disciples of Christ 'like a grain, the imperturbable faith of the Popes was the visible rock on which the Church sits," he said in conclusion.