Celebrating Mass with his former doctoral students and a new generation of scholars of his work, Benedict XVI focused his homily on the importance of finding “truth, love and goodness” in God.
Now 88, Benedict has met annually since the 1970s with what is known as the “Ratzinger Schulerkreis” (Ratzinger Student Circle), which is made up of bishops and scholars who earned their doctorates under him in Germany.
The schulerkreis gathers for a week of theological discussions; the topic this year was “How to speak about God today” and was by Mgr Tomas Halik, a Czech theologian and winner of the 2014 Templeton Prize.
The retired pope did not join his former students for the discussions in Castel Gandolfo, but spent the morning with them August 30 in the Vatican’s Teutonic College where the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Roman Library will open to scholars in November.
In the day’s Gospel reading from St Mark, Jesus says, “Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.”
According to a post on the Ratzinger Foundation website, Benedict XVI said he remembered that when the same Gospel was read three years ago at Mass with the schulerkreis, Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, one of the retired pope’s former students, had asked whether perhaps it is true that people also must take measures to purify themselves or protect themselves from what comes from outside.
The retired pope said the answer, which is found by looking at the entire Gospel, would indicate that people must take precautions to avoid “the many illnesses, even epidemics, which threaten us.”