February 1, 2023
REQUIEM MASS FOR POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT XVI — Most. Rev. Victor B. Bendico D.D., bishop of the Diocese of Baguio, presided over the requiem mass for the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the Baguio Cathedral of the Our Lady of the Atonement on Jan. 5 where he asked the Catholic faithful to remain firm in their faith as what the late pope asked of his people. — Jane Cadalig

Religious and the lay faithful in Baguio City joined Catholics all over the world in mourning the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict the XVI on Dec. 31, 2022. He was 95.
At the Diocese of Baguio, Most Rev. Victor B. Bendico, D.D., presided over the requiem mass on Jan. 5 for the late Pope Emeritus whom he said was the pontiff that made him a monsignor.
“He gave me the honor as the papal chaplain and on Dec. 2011, I was invested as a monsignor with a red sash at the Immaculate Conception Metropolitan Cathedral in Roxas City together with two other priests,” he said.
In his homily, Bp. Bendico reflected on how the late pope presented himself as a simple and humble laborer in the vineyard of the Lord when he assumed in 2005.
He said although Pope Benedict XVI regarded himself as an “insufficient instrument” used by God, he was knowledgeable about the world and what was happening in the world.
The bishop said despite Pope Benedict XVI’s short stint of pastoral service as a parish priest and a Diocesan bishop, he did not fail to touch base with the grassroots churches.
“We know that Pope Emeritus spent most of his life as a theologian and a Vatican official. Nevertheless, he tried to understand what was happening at the grassroots of the local churches,” Bp. Bendico said.
The bishop said the late Pope’s long-time secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaswein, once shared in an interview how the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger would read and review the reports submitted by the bishops from different continents and would ask about the local situations and pastoral challenges they encounter whenever they had their visit to Rome.
“These gave him and the Vatican office a picture of the global church and the challenges met by different cultures,” he said.
Bishop Bendico also asked the faithful to reflect on the late pope’s spiritual testament where he expressed his gratitude for the beauty of the Lord’s creation in his homeland Bavaria in Germany, as well as his request for the people of his country to not allow their faith to be destructed.
“To the faithful of the Diocese of Baguio, isn’t it that Pope Benedict’s praise of the splendor of God’s creation which he delighted in his home country can be said also of our own experience in Baguio and Benguet? The place where we live also reflect the splendor of the Creator,” he said.
He said the late Pope’s invitation to his compatriots to remain a country of faith should also be the same invitation the local faithful should share to one another as “we are also challenged not to let our faith be destructed in our time.”
“Pope Benedict XVI’s words always find a home in our hearts and challenge us to love our environment, this Earth, our home, and to strengthen one another in faith,” he said.
With Pope Benedict XVI’s passing, Bp. Bendico said: “The world lost a profound thinker. The academic world lost a brilliant theologian. We have lost a pastor, a father, and a friend in Christ. We may not all reach the caliber and stature of Pope Benedict but in our own way as priests and religious and as ordinary Christians, we can learn from the profound lessons which he taught in his writings, in his homilies, and reflections.”
He said the late pope’s life of humility, service, and deep spirituality can serve too as guide in every Christian’s life.
“These will be our humble ways and attempts to grasp the mystery of our Lord unfolding in our lives and in the life of our local church,” he said. – Jane B. Cadalig