January 1, 2023
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) has joined world leaders to pay tributes to the late Pope Benedict XVI, who passed away on Saturday, December 31, 2022, at the age of 95.
In a statement by his media aide, Femi Adesina, on Saturday, Buhari praised the deceased for his dedication to advancing inter-faith dialogue and peace.
The former pope, whose name was Joseph Ratzinger, served at the Vatican between 2005 and 2013, before retiring due to ill health.
The Director of the Catholic International Magazine (Messenger of Anthony), Mario Conte, announced on his Twitter page, @FriarMario, that the funeral of the late pope will take place on January 5, 2023, at the St Peter’s Square with Pope Francis presiding.
Also, the King of England, Charles George, ‘sent his good wishes’ to Pope Francis over the loss of Pope Benedict XVI. Recalling the role Benedict played in strengthening relations between the Vatican and the United Kingdom, the monarch wrote on the official website of the palace, “I recall his constant efforts to promote peace and goodwill to all people, and to strengthen the relationship between the global Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church.”
The British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, also tweeted, “He was a great theologian whose visit to the UK in 2010 was a historic moment for both Catholics and non-Catholics throughout our country.”
On his part, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the president of Germany, Benedict’s home country, wrote, “He particularly cared about the unity of Christendom and the dialogue of religions, the connection between religion and society.
“He sought dialogue with Jews, Muslims, and all Christian denominations worldwide.”
Meanwhile, in his tribute to Benedict, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, wrote on Twitter, “His service to God and humanity as a priest, archbishop, cardinal, and pope bore eloquent witness to his genuine love for God and man. Rest on, Pope Benedict XVI. –PO.”
In a similar vein, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance in Enugu State, Frank Nweke Jr, wrote on Twitter, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, so that they may rest from their labours, for their deeds follow with them. Rest in peace, Pope Benedict XVI. I commiserate with all Catholic faithful and the world at this time.”
Also, the Christian Association of Nigeria expressed sadness at the death of the emeritus pope, describing him as “a great theologian whose life embodied the balance of faith, reason and works in ways that positively influenced both Catholics and non-Catholics throughout the world.”
A statement by the President of CAN, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, read in part, “It will be difficult to fill the shoes of untiring efforts to find a common path in promoting peace and goodwill throughout the world which Pope Benedict XVI left behind, but the Christian Association of Nigeria prays that God Almighty will continue to raise theologians like the late pontiff who are committed to the defence of the Christian faith.”
Similarly, the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission, Rev Yakubu Pam, said, “The death of Pope Benedict XVI saddens me. It pains not only me as an individual but the Catholic Church worldwide. I pray for the family of Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church at this moment. May his soul rest in peace.”
On his part, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, said, “He slightly took a different perspective. His predecessor, Benedict 15, was pope during the time of war. So, he saw himself as someone who helped the Catholic Church provide a moral compass on how the world could organise itself, moving slightly away from an obsession with geopolitics that caused the world so much after 15 years of the cold war. If one looks at the first two major documents he put out, they helped to let the world understand that love has to be embedded in politics and almost every area of public life.”
Taking to Twitter, the Archbishop of the Lagos diocese of the Catholic Church, Alfred Martins, posted on the diocese’s official Twitter page, @Lag_archdiocese, “The Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was ready for this day, the last day of the year 2022. May God’s mercy abide with him as he faces the judge of his life.”
In a similar vein, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, Ignatius Kaigama, stated that the life of the late clergyman was “a very powerful message to leaders around the world, especially leaders in Africa, that when one is not able to perform, and one’s health is declining, one should have the humility to say that one cannot carry on, and let another person take over.”
Similarly, the Director of Social Communication Commission of the Catholic Diocese of Osogbo, Rev Anthony Omodunbi, told the News Agency of Nigeria that the late pope was someone who always stood up for the right thing. He wrote, “Even before he became the pope, when he was the Prefect of Congregation for Faith, he always stood his ground for what was right and proper.”
The spokesperson of the Ogun State chapter of CAN, Tolulope Taiwo, also lauded Benedict for honourably resigning due to his declining health. He wrote, “He voluntarily resigned. This is not so with many of our leaders across the globe today. They prefer to die in office when they know that they are ineffective and inactive. It is a very big lesson to learn from him.”
In his reaction, Bishop Amos Ogunrinde, the CAN chairman in Osun State, said, “Benedict served God with his whole heart while on earth and also lived an exemplary life, which is worthy of emulation by Christians.”
Meanwhile, the Prelate of the Methodist Church Nigeria, Sunday Mbang, stated that even though the late pope was a conservative, he was one of the best ever. Mbang urged all Catholics around the world to accept that what happened was an act of God. He said, “He was one of the best we had, even though he was a conservative. I pray his soul will rest in perfect peace. I ask all Catholics to accept that what happened was ordained by God.”
The Prelate Emeritus of the Methodist Church, Ola Makinde, also said, “The world will remember him as an eradicator of poverty and oppression, because he worked against poverty, oppression and slavery. May his soul rest in peace.”