Benedict XVI, the spiritual testament: “I ask forgiveness from those who have wronged me”

The spiritual testament of the Pope emeritus: “I understand that even the dark and tiring stretches were for my salvation”

Joseph Ratzinger left a spiritual testament. The Vatican makes it known. Here is the complete text of Benedict XVI, who died today at the age of 95: “If in this late hour of my life I look back on the decades I have covered, the first thing I see is how many reasons I have for giving thanks. I thank before every another God himself, the dispenser of every good gift, who gave me life and guided me through various moments of confusion, always picking me up whenever I began to slip and always giving me again the light of his countenance.In retrospect I see and understand that even the dark and tiring stretches of this journey were for my salvation and that it was precisely in them that He guided me well”.

“I thank my parents – wrote Ratzinger – who gave me life in a difficult time and who, at the cost of great sacrifices, with their love prepared for me a magnificent home which, like a clear light, illuminates all my days to this day. My father’s lucid faith taught us children to believe, and as a beacon it has always stood firm amidst all my scientific achievements; my mother’s deep devotion and great goodness are a legacy to whom I can never thank enough. My sister has assisted me for decades selflessly and with loving concern; my brother, with his lucid judgment, his vigorous resolution and serenity of heart, has always paved the way for me; without this his continuous preceding and accompanying me I could not have found the right way”.

“I sincerely thank God for the many friends, men and women, whom he has always placed beside me; for collaborators at all stages of my journey; for the teachers and pupils He has given me. I entrust them all gratefully to his goodness. And I want to thank the Lord for my beautiful homeland in the Bavarian Prealps, – he writes again – in which I have always seen the splendor of the Creator himself shine through. I thank the people of my homeland because in them I have always been able to experience the beauty of faith again. I pray that our land will remain a land of faith and please, dear compatriots: do not let your faith distract you. And finally I thank God for all the beauty that I have been able to experience in all the stages of my journey, especially in Rome and in Italy which has become my second homeland. To all those I have wronged in any way, I sincerely ask for forgiveness“.

Firm in the faith, Ratzinger’s warning: “What I said earlier to my compatriots, I now say to all those in the Church who have been entrusted to my service: remain steadfast in the faith! Do not let yourselves be confused! It often seems that science — the natural sciences on the one hand and historical research (in particular the exegesis of Sacred Scripture) on the other — are able to offer irrefutable results in contrast with the Catholic faith.I have experienced the transformations of the natural sciences since ancient times and I was able to ascertain how, on the contrary, apparent certainties against faith have vanished, proving to be not science, but philosophical interpretations only apparently due to science; just as, moreover, it is in the dialogue with the natural sciences that faith too has learned to better understand the limit of the scope of his statements, and therefore its specificity”.

“I have been accompanying the path of theology for sixty years, especially of the biblical sciences, and with the succession of the different generations I have seen theses that seemed unshakeable crumble, proving to be mere hypotheses: the liberal generation (Harnack, Jülicher, etc.), the existentialist generation (Bultmann etc.), the Marxist generation. I have seen and continue to see how the reasonableness of faith has emerged and is emerging again from the tangle of hypotheses. Jesus Christ is truly the way, the truth and the life – and the Church, with all its insufficiencies, it is truly His body. Finally, I humbly ask: pray for me, so that the Lord, despite all my sins and insufficiencies, welcomes me into the eternal abode”, concludes Ratzinger in his spiritual testament.