Bishops and politicians have Benedict XVI. thought. The voices were characterized by respect, but there were also critical tones.
Limburg/Wiesbaden (dpa/lhe) - In Hesse, too, dignitaries and politicians of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday, thought. Limburg bishop Georg Bätzing, who is also chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, called Benedict an impressive theologian and experienced shepherd. "Pope Benedict made the voice of the gospel - whether convenient or not - audible."
Bätzing paid tribute to "the modest and humble nature" of Benedikt, but he was "not made for the public and the stage". The Limburg pastor spoke of Benedict's "courageous" decision to step down as pope in 2013 with "great respect". This was "perhaps the greatest act of his life". He made it clear: "The office and the person are not one."
After the abuse scandals, Benedict emphasized: "Any abuse is a crime." He himself asked for forgiveness from those affected, but questions remained unanswered. "He went into the eternity of God with these questions."
Bishop Michael Gerber of Fulda, his predecessor Heinz Josef Algermissen and auxiliary bishop Karlheinz Diez also paid tribute to the deceased. Gerber and Diez prayed at the grave of Saint Boniface in Fulda Cathedral. Gerber described Benedict as an "observant and vigilant shepherd", Algermissen as a "role model in faith in Jesus Christ" and Dietz as an "impressive theologian".
The President of the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau (EKHN), Volker Jung, designated Benedict XVI. as "theologians of world standing". When Benedict resigned from his office as the first incumbent pope, recognizing his own limitations, he sent a clear signal for "the practice of papal administration".
Hesse's Prime Minister Boris Rhein (CDU) paid tribute to Benedict XVI. as a brilliant theologian. Pope Benedict XVI around 2005, with his visit to the World Youth Day in Cologne, "created a sense of togetherness that included people who were not members of the Catholic Church". It is thanks to his special commitment that the connection between church and faith was anchored more firmly again. Last but not least, Benedict will be remembered "as a key historical figure" because of his voluntary resignation from the office of Pope - "even if he could have been more energetic in investigating abuse in the Catholic Church".
The German Bishops' Conference (DBK) recalled on New Year's Day that on Monday (January 2nd) the book of condolence for Benedict XVI. should be opened in the Apostolic Nunciature in Berlin. DBK Chairman Bishop Bätzing and Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Nikola Eterović should be the first to register on Monday morning.