Hundreds of campus community members, including President Peter Kilpatrick, gathered at St. Vincent de Paul's Chapel Jan. 12 for a Mass celebrating Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
The pope emeritus died Dec. 31, during Christmas break, and the Mass allowed the students, faculty and staff to honor his monumental contributions to the Church together. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, during his pontificate, visited the Catholic University campus in 2008. Many current students were young children at the time.
University Chaplain Father Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P. said during his homily that the pope emeritus came to the United States with public perceptions that he was "God's Rottweiler" and an unapproachable academic. Father Aquinas pointed to a nearby photo from Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the country where he smiled broadly.
"He comes in 2008 and this is what he looks like - happy, joyful, loving," Father Aquinas said.
By the end of the visit, Father Aquinas said newspapers were lovingly calling the pontiff, "Papa."
"It was an important visit, a remarkable visit," Father Aquinas said.
Father Aquinas praised Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's commitment to truth and clarity during his homily.
"We thrive on truth," Father Aquinas said. " Truth is as important as air and water."
He also said Pope Francis has picked up his predecessor's mantle in preaching the truth, while sharing it and mercy with those on the margins. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, he said, was the right person between the pontificates of Saint John Paul II and Pope Francis.