Vatican City, Oct 6, 2014 / 13:22 pm
Retired pontiff Benedict XVI may take part to Paul VI's beatification Mass Oct. 19, revealed Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office.
Asked if the former Pope was expected to give his personal contribution to the two-week synod of bishops, Fr. Lombardi said during a press conference that "it is not expected that the Pope emeritus will take part in the synod, which is so committing and long."
"Since his resignation, the Pope emeritus has been living a private life in prayer," Fr. Lombardi, adding that "everybody hopes to see him for Paul VI's beatification."
The beatification Mass will take place Oct. 19, at the end of the extraordinary synod on the family – the synod of bishops being an institution the late Pope wanted and promoted.
Pope Francis said in an interview with Italian outlet "Corriere della Sera" that Paul VI is one of his models, and he praised his predecessor for the promulgation of the encyclical "Humanae Vitae," issued notwithstanding the opposing views about its content held by a majority of public opinion.
The connection between Paul VI and Benedict XVI, however, is stronger. Paul VI appointed Joseph Ratzinger as archbishop of Munich in 1977, and shortly after created him a cardinal.
The consistory took place June 27, 1977, and it was the very last of Pope Montini.
Paul VI and Joseph Ratzinger's relationship developed after the Second Vatican Council, according to an account of Cardinal Giovani Battista Re, who had served to the Vatican Secretariat of State during Paul VI's pontificate and worked with John Paul II and Benedict XVI as well.
"Only after, the late Pope started to read the theological work of the then professor Ratzinger. The book 'Introduction to Christianity,' written by Ratzinger, was among the books of the Paul VI's personal library," Cardinal Re told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano November of 2009.
Cardinal Re also noted that "Paul VI described Ratzinger as 'remarkable teacher of theology' at the consistory, and this proves the Pope's deep admiration for Ratzinger."
Benedict XVI reciprocated this admiration. In his angelus address Aug. 3, 2008, Benedict described as "almost superhuman" Paul VI's "merit in presiding over the Council Sessions, in bringing it successfully to conclusion and in governing the eventful post-conciliar period appears ever greater."
Benedict also paid homage to Paul VI on Nov. 8, 2009 when he went on a one day visits to Brescia and Concesio, where Pope Montini hailed from and where he had spent his younger years.
"In times of great changes in the Church and the world, how often did Paul VI insist on this need to remain steadfast in living communion with Christ! Indeed it is only in this way that we become members of his family which is the Church," Benedict XVI said on that occasion, while he was visiting the Church where Giovanni Montini was baptized.
Given this esteem and personal involvement, it is likely that Benedict XVI will want to take part to the beatification of another of his beloved predecessors, after he had took part to the Mass for the Canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II.