Catholic Bishops in Africa Eulogize Pope Emeritus as Servant with “great self-sacrifice”

Pope Benedict XVI greets pilgrims in St. Peter's Square during his inaugural Mass April 24, 2005, as the Catholic Church's 265th pope. | Vatican Media

Members of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) have paid glowing tribute to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who passed on in Rome on December 31, eulogizing him as a Catholic Church leader who served with “great self-sacrifice”.

In a tribute shared with ACI Africa Monday, January 2, the First Vice President of SECAM, says the Church Family of God in Africa and Madagascar received with “great sadness and deep  emotion the news of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.”

“This great servant of God who returns to the Father’s house in all serenity during the octave of the Nativity knew how to be, throughout his pontifical ministry, a great witness of the new evangelization, servant of love in truth (Caritas in Veritate),” Fridolin Besungu Cardinal Ambongo says in the one-page tribute.

Writing on behalf of Catholic Bishops in Africa, Cardinal Ambongo says the late Pope emeritus “served the whole Church with great self-sacrifice and has worked tirelessly for justice, peace, reconciliation and dialogue between cultures.”

“The people of Africa know that Benedict XVI treated them in a very special way during his pontificate,” the Local Ordinary of the Archdiocese of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) adds.


He recalls the role of the late former Pontiff in the realization of the Second Special Assembly for Africa, saying the late former Pontiff “convened the Second Synodal Assembly for Africa in order to give the Church of God on the African continent a new impetus charged with evangelical hope and charity.”

Cardinal Ambongo further says Benedict XVI invited Africa to “trust in itself in order to stand up with dignity. He saw in her the spiritual lung for a humanity that seems to be in crisis of faith and hope.”

The Congolese member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (O.F.M., Cap) who serves as the President of the Justice, Peace and Development Commission of SECAM says that the people of God in Africa and Madagascar are making “a fervent prayer to the Lord that He may welcome this faithful servant of the Gospel into His kingdom of peace and light.”

“In the name of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and in my own name, I pay homage to the Church in Africa and Madagascar to the one who carried Africa with fervor, conviction and generosity,” the First Vice President of the continental Symposium says in the tribute shared with ACI Africa.

Born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, the late former Pontiff was elected to the papacy in April 2005, taking the name Benedict XVI.

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This election came after decades of service to the Catholic Church as a theologian, prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal, and one of the closest collaborators of St. John Paul II, whom he succeeded as Pope.

In February 2013, the then 85-year-old Benedict XVI shocked the world with a Latin-language announcement of his retirement, becoming the first Pope in 600 years to do so. He cited his advanced age and his lack of strength as unsuitable to the exercise of his office.

Widely recognized as one of the Catholic Church's top theologians, the pontificate of Benedict XVI was marked by a profound understanding of the challenges to the Church in the face of growing ideological aggression, not least from an increasingly secular Western mindset, both within and outside the Church. 

He famously warned about the “dictatorship of relativism” in a homily just before the conclave in 2005 that elected him Pope.

After his retirement in 2013, the late Pope emeritus resided in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, a small convent built in 1994 inside the Vatican City walls, dedicating himself to a life of penance and prayer.


On December 31, the Holy See announced that the Funeral Mass of the Pope emeritus is to take place on January 5 in St. Peter’s Square beginning from 9:30 a.m.

Pope Francis is set to preside over the Funeral Mass, which, in keeping with Benedict XVI’s wishes, “will be carried out under the sign of simplicity,” the Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni, has been quoted as saying. 

The late former Pontiff is to be buried in the crypt under St. Peter's Basilica.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.