Benedict XVI: My Spiritual Testament

Pope Benedict XVI

If at this late hour in my life I look back at the decades I have lived, I see first of all the number of reasons for which I have to be thankful. First of all, I thank God Himself, the Giver of all good, who gave me life and guided me in various moments of confusion; He always picked me up when I was starting to slip up and always gave me the light of his face back. In retrospect, I see and realize that even the dark and tortuous parts of this path were for my salvation and that it was in them that he guided me so well.

I thank my parents, who gave me life in a difficult time and who, at the cost of great sacrifices, prepared for me a wonderful house with their love, which, like a clear light, illuminates all my days to this day. My father’s evident faith taught us children to believe, and as a sign of it I have always held firm in the midst of all my scholarly accomplishments; My mother’s deep devotion and great kindness is a legacy I cannot thank her enough. My sister has helped me for decades with selflessness and tender concern; My brother, with the clarity of his judgment, his strong resolve, and the serenity of his heart, has always cleared the way for me; Without your constant guiding and accompanying me, I would not have been able to find the right path.

From my heart I thank God for the many friends, men and women, whom he has always placed by my side; to collaborators at all stages of my path; To the teachers and students who gave me. With gratitude I commend them all for your goodness. And I want to thank the Lord for my beautiful Bavarian homeland, where I have always seen the splendor of the Creator himself shining through. I thank the people of my country for having lived in it the beauty of faith over and over again. I pray that our land will remain a land of faith and I beg you, dear compatriots: do not let yourselves be separated from the faith. And finally, I thank God for all the beauty that I was able to experience in all stages of my journey, especially in Rome and Italy, which became my second home.

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To all those I have wronged in any way, I sincerely apologize.

What I said to my countrymen before, I say now to all those in the Church who are entrusted to my service: remain firm in the faith! Do not panic! It often seems as though science—the natural sciences on the one hand, and historical research (particularly the interpretation of the Bible) on the other—is capable of producing irrefutable results that run counter to the Catholic faith. I have lived the transformations of the natural sciences for a long time, and I have seen, on the contrary, the disappearance of the seeming certainty against faith, proving that it is not science, but philosophical explanations that seem to be the prerogative of science. For sixty years I have followed the path of theology, especially biblical sciences, and with the succession of different generations I have seen theses that seemed to collapse indisputably and turned out to be mere hypotheses: the liberal generation (Harnack, Gulicher, etc. ), the existential generation (Bultmann, etc.), Marxist generation. I have seen and see how the reasonableness of faith arose out of the confusion of assumptions and re-emerged. Jesus Christ is truly the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and the Church, with all its imperfections, is truly His Body.

Finally, I humbly ask: pray for me, so that the Lord, despite all my sins and shortcomings, will receive me into His eternal home. To everyone entrusted to me, my prayer goes with all my heart, day after day.

(unofficial translation)

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