At five o’clock in the evening on Friday, the Pope presided at the funeral of the Austrian Cardinal Alfons Maria Stickler S.D.B. in St. Peter's Basilica. The Pope praised Cardinal Stickler as a man who lived a life always motivated by humble adherence to God’s will and faithfulness to the Church.
The diseased cardinal, who was the archivist and librarian emeritus of Holy Roman Church, passed away on December 12 at the age of 97.
In his homily the Pope recalled how, in his spiritual testament, the late cardinal had written that "as a Salesian I follow the three ideals handed down to us by Don Bosco: love for the Eucharist, devotion to the Virgin Mary and faithfulness to the Holy Father."
Cardinal Stickler "well knew," said the Holy Father, "that to love Christ is to love His Church, which is ever holy despite, as he himself notes in his spiritual testament, 'the sometimes scandalous weakness of we her representatives, in both past and present'."
"Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven," said Benedict XVI quoting the Gospel of Matthew's account of the Sermon on the Mount. "All of us, who through Baptism have been called to serve Jesus, know that we cannot and must not await praise and recognition in this world," he added.
"The faithful disciple's true reward is 'in heaven;' it is Christ Himself. Let us never forget this truth! Let us never give in to the temptation to seek human success and support rather than counting only and always on Him Who came into the world to save us, and Who on the cross redeemed us. Whatever the service to which God calls us in His vineyard, let it always be motivated by humble adherence to His will."
This, the Holy Father went on, "despite human frailties and weaknesses, was the guiding principle of the earthly life of the beloved Cardinal Stickler. ... A life totally dedicated, first to teaching and subsequently to the service of the Holy See."
Pope Benedict recalled how as a young man Cardinal Stickler entered the novitiate of the Salesians. He was ordained a priest in 1937 and, between 1958 and 1966, was rector of the Salesian University. In 1971 he became prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library, and in September 1983 was appointed to the post of pro-librarian of Holy Roman Church. Two months later he was consecrated a bishop by John Paul II who, the following year, appointed him pro-archivist of Holy Roman Church and, in 1985, made him a cardinal.