Throughout the past century, God has blessed the Church with exceptional Popes, including Benedict XVI, said Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Cordoba, Spain.
“Almost all of the Popes that the Church has had in the last century are canonized or on their way to being so,” said Bishop Fernandez in a letter sent to CNA on Feb. 22.
“St. Pius X, Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II. The Church has never had a better list of Popes of this caliber,” he explained. “And Benedict XVI joins this list.”
In all of these Popes, “the call to holiness that the Second Vatican Council said was for all has been fulfilled,” the bishop continued.
“Holiness does not consist merely of personal qualities nor is it primarily human effort. Holiness is above all a grace,” he said.
“And therefore, God has been great to us, giving us this line of Popes that fill the best pages of the history of humanity with their holiness of life (…) and have confronted the grave problems of humanity in our times with the ever renewed vitality of the Gospel.”
Bishop Fernandez invited the faithful to “think about what the primacy of the Apostle Peter means for the whole of the Church and for all of humanity,” since “Jesus Christ founded his Church upon the foundation of the apostles, and he put one of them – Peter – at the head of that newborn community.”
“For this reason, the successor to St. Peter leads the entire Church,” he said, adding that Jesus entrusted to Peter “the beautiful task of tending his sheep, those Christ rescued with his precious blood.”
The bishop encouraged Catholics to thank God for the pontificate of Benedict XVI and to pray “that He grant us a new pastor with a heart like His, who will tend us all with the love of Christ.”
“The circumstances we are experiencing should lead us to ask if we truly love the Pope, if we are paying attention to what he is teaching us, if we are obeying what he tells us,” he said. “To separate oneself from communion with the Successor of Peter would be to separate oneself from the true Church of the Lord.”
“Our prayer in these days should put us in an atmosphere of faith, so that we can understand what apostolic succession means,” Bishop Fernandez stressed, because “only in a climate of prayer will we be prepared to live in communion with the Successor of Peter, the Pope that God wants to give to His Church today.”