The Claretian Missionaries (Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) join the entire Church in praying for Pope Benedict XVI. Today we thank the Lord for his long life of service to the Gospel and the Church.
During his years as the Bishop of Rome (2005-2013), Benedict XVI showed his deep appreciation of the person of our founder, St. Anthony Mary Claret. He encouraged the Congregation with his word and example. As Fr. Josep Maria Abella, then Superior General, expressed in 2013 when the Pope presented his resignation, our Congregation is grateful for his spiritual depth, generous and wise service to the Church and the world, and in a particular way, for his closeness and guidance to consecrated life.
The Claretian life and mission of those years (2005-2013) were notably enriched by his magisterium (Deus caritas est, Verbum Domini, Caritas in veritate…) and impulse to the attention to young people and the dialogue between faith, reason, and cultures.
In December 2007, Benedict XVI, who had invited young people two months earlier to take Fr. Claret as a model, addressed an affectionate letter to the Claretian Family on the occasion of the bicentenary of his birth, evoking his unconditional love for Christ, his unreserved dedication and his tireless evangelizing work, and describing his life, teachings, and example as “an extraordinary spiritual heritage for the whole Church”.
In 2009, the only General Chapter of the Congregation held during his pontificate affirmed the profound challenge that we Claretian Missionaries discovered in his teachings and the synods held on the Eucharist and the Word of God. The General Chapter of 2015, celebrated in the time of Pope Francis, deepened the reflection encouraged by the synod on the new evangelization convoked by Benedict XVI, in years in which the Congregation relived with singular intensity the sense of Mission and its centrality in Claretian life.
The influence of Pope Benedict is also easy to perceive in the options promoted by the General Chapter of 2021, which insisted on the biblical animation of all pastoral ministry and the importance of the Word of God, the “light and motor of our missionary life”. The pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, who approved the beatification of Fr. Andrés Solá and the martyrs of Tarragona. Sigüenza and Fernán Caballero, also impelled the Claretian Family to deepen their in faith and fidelity in their missionary vocation.
The Claretian Missionaries, in thanking God the Father today for the gift of the life of Benedict XVI, recall the invitation he addressed to us in 2007:
“I invite you to deepen the treasure of the life and spiritual message of St. Anthony Mary Claret to transmit it to younger generations and to enkindle in your hearts the great loves that guided Claret’s life: the Word of God, the Eucharist, ecclesial communion, adherence to the Pope and devotion to the Mother of God”.
In the coming days, the Congregation will officially express its condolences to Pope Francis.