Former biblical and theology students of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI held their annual Ratzinger schulerkreis study group and reunion with their classmates and former professor this past weekend. Some of the participants told Catholic News Agency yesterday that they found themselves overjoyed to find the Pontiff Emeritus in what appeared to be excellent health, despite reports from some quarters to the contrary in recent months. Benedict delivered a homily based on Sunday's Gospel (i.e. "you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church") that was reportedly about the triumph of God's love. This year's meeting took place at Castel Gandolfo with the blessing of Pope Francis. German theologian Father Karl-Heinz Menke served as moderator, and gave a presentation on the Theology of the Cross.
Benedict focused on the person of Jesus and the reality of who Jesus Christ is. “They say he was a great man, a teacher, a revolutionary perhaps. People outside see him in different ways. And that's not a bad thing; that means that Jesus image has spread throughout society and religions, but, to recognize him as the Son of God is a gift of faith,” Father Vincent Twomey explained to CNA as he recounted the message of the Pope Emeritus. “Benedict XVI talked about how the gates of hell would never prevail. The Church is always the weak player, always under attack but the Church always survives because it is not a human, but a divine entity.”
Monsignor Barthélemy Adoukonou, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, who was also a part of the schulerkreis, told Catholic News Agency that the Pontiff Emeritus' amazed those present. “It was extraordinary. As always, it amazed us that in spite of age, and without a prepared text, the Pope Emeritus gave a homily at a great level, with an extraordinary clarity of mind for his age,” Monsignor Adoukonou said. The Pontiff Emeritus is reported to have stood unaided for nearly 90 minutes during Mass, despite a chair having been readied for him.