Cardinal Lacroix recalls Benedict XVI's gentleness, care for Canadian Church
By Deborah Castellano Lubov & Jean-Charles Putzolu
Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix has recalled Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's great gentleness and closeness, calling him a truly "humble servant in the Lord's vineyard."
The Archbishop of Quebec, who was among the more than 120 cardinals present at Benedict XVI's Requiem Mass on Thursday morning, did so in an interview with Vatican News’ Jean-Charles Putzolu, following the celebration in St. Peter's Square.
Unique historic moment
The Canadian Cardinal expressed his emotion to have taken part in this unique event in Church history, and recalled meeting with the late Benedict XVI over the years.
“This is a unique, historic moment,” the Cardinal reflected, expressing his gratitude to be able to travel from Quebec and share this moment in the Vatican with people from all over the world.
Benedict's invaluable prayers for the Church
While the late Pope Emeritus may have withdrawn from the public sphere, the Cardinal said, “he withdrew in prayer.”
Cardinal Lacroix expressed the great value and importance of Benedict’s prayers for the Church since his resignation.
Charism of authenticity
The Cardinal said he went twice to pay his respects to the Pope Emeritus while he was lying in state in St. Peter’s Basilica earlier this week.
"I watched the faithful pass by with a respect, a silence that you almost never hear in the Basilica, when there are tourists," he said.
While present at the General Audience where Pope Francis praised Benedict XVI as a "master of the catechesis," Cardinal Lacroix shared his delight in seeing “the gratitude for this man who was not exuberant, who did not have the charisma of his predecessor or his successor, the charisma of the crowds, but who had the charisma of authenticity, of truth, of love and of his link with the Lord which was visible in his being.”
The Cardinal encouraged the faithful to return to the late Pope Emeritus' writings, speeches, homilies, and books, which, he said, “deserve to be explored and developed further.”
Benedict's care for Canada
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, he recalled, had done much for Canada, including "being the first to welcome a delegation of indigenous people in 2009 to begin this long process of reconciliation," and the one "who canonized the first indigenous woman in North America: Kateri Tekakwitha and Brother André, also from Montreal."
Cardinal Lacroix also recalled that when he was appointed Archbishop, Benedict XVI had said to the Apostolic Nuncio, "When Bishop Lacroix accepts the responsibility, tell him that I want to see him fifteen days after he begins his ministry."
Admitting he was very curious as to why the Pope wanted to see him, the Canadian Cardinal expressed joy and appreciation that upon his arrival in Rome, the late Benedict received him for almost a half hour only to encourage and listen to him, offer some good advice, and thank him for accepting.
Cardinal Lacroix recalled that when Pope Francis created him a Cardinal in 2014, Benedict XVI came to attend the celebration. “He didn't do it often, but he came.”
The Cardinal said he remembers immediately going downstairs after receiving the biretta, the Cardinal's ring, and the parchment designating his Rome parish.
Cardinal Lacroix said he keeps those precious memories close in his heart.
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