CASTEL GANDOLFO (EWTN News/CNA) — Pope Benedict XVI has asked forgiveness on behalf of generations of “cradle Catholics” who have failed to transmit the faith to others.
“We who have known God since we were young must ask forgiveness,” said Pope Benedict to a gathering of his former students at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, on Aug. 28.
The Pope said an apology is due because “we bring people so little of the light of his face, because from us comes so little certainty that he exists, that he is there, and that he is the Great One that everyone is waiting for.”
The Pope’s comments were made at a Mass to conclude the annual meeting of his Schülerkreis (Study Group).
The gathering has taken place every summer since 1977 and draws together those who defended their doctoral theses in front of Pope Benedict during his years teaching theology at various universities in Germany.
This year they were joined, for the first time, by those who have more recently written their doctrinal theses on works of the Pope. Together, the 40 invitees spent four days exploring the issue of the “New Evangelization.”
Pope Benedict’s academic career spanned 26 years and saw him teach at universities in Bonn, Munster, Tubingen and Regensburg, prior to his appointment as archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1977. Despite his increasing responsibilities, he has always attended the annual gathering of his alumni, even after becoming Pope in 2005.
The Pope based his brief introductory comments upon the words of the Psalm of the day, Psalm 62, which describes the human soul that thirsts for God “like a dry and weary land.”
Pope Benedict said that believers should ask Christ — who is the living water — to send them “those who seek the living water elsewhere.”
Just days after the success of World Youth Day in Madrid, he also asked for particular prayers for young people.
The homily for the Mass was delivered by another former student of the Pope, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, who spoke of the need for complete renunciation of self required by radical Christian discipleship.
He said, “Only by not conforming ourselves to this world can we recognize the will of God and make it the foundation of our lives.”