By Fr. Anthony Adetayo

Since the demise of the Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI on 31st December 2022, Catholics and people all over the world have been praying for his happy repose. The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ijebu-Ode; Most Rev. Francis Obafemi Adesina wrote a tribute about the Pope, published on 1st January 2023, in which he exalts the virtues of the Late Pope and enjoins the people of God in the Diocese to join the Universal Church in praying for his happy repose. Consequently, the Diocese gathers in a stratified manner on Thursday 5th January 2023 as a day of Memorial for the Late Pope Emeritus.

The Bishop in company of many Priests of the Diocese including Religious and Laity gathered at St. Sebastian Cathedral, Ijebu-Ode at 5:00pm for Divine Mercy prayer, Office of the Dead and to offer Mass for the Late Pope. Putting on red vestment, the Bishop explains that it is traditional to put on red vestment for the burial of a Pope as they have poured out their life as libation and it also symbolizes martyrdom.

Rev. Fr. David-Mary Odunsi was the homilist at the Mass. He describes the Late Pope as one who was misinterpreted but his love for the Church remains unshaken. He was described as holy and scholarly at the same time, one who balanced faith and reason. According to Fr. Odunsi, “St. Thomas Aquinas has been hailed as the most scholarly among the saints and the most saintly among the scholars. However, I am yet to see another person coming closer to this appellation of St. Thomas Aquinas other than Pope Benedict XVI. His last statement was “Lord I love you”.

The Bishop teaches that there are three lessons one can learn from the life of Pope Benedict XVI. “Firstly, remember that no matter how professional you are, you must not exclude holiness because holiness is our universal call. Secondly, the Pope knew the importance of silence. He was silent after his retirement without interfering with the Papacy, he was silent in prayer and meditation. Thirdly, he knew when to bow out when he was weak. Many of our old grandpas want to come and rule us even in their weakness. This is a lesson for our politicians and for all of us too.”

Below is the homily by Fr. David-Mary Odunsi on the life of Pope Benedict XVI