“I join the Catholic community in mourning the passing of the 265th Successor of St. Peter whose only desire was to be a ‘humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.’” With those words, Bishop Douglas J. Lucia called on all the faithful in the Diocese of Syracuse to pray for the repose of the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who passed away on December 31, 2022. 

“His service in the Church spanned decades both as theologian and pastor and he had a key role to play in the Second Vatican Council as theological advisor to the bishops,” Bishop Lucia expressed in a formal statement. “Yet, the heart of his ministry would focus on being a true icon of Christ, the deacon – Christ, the servant.”

Bishop Lucia was the main presider at a memorial Mass for the late Pontiff at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. In his homily, Bishop Emeritus Robert J. Cunningham said that like St. Peter, the first Pope, Benedict also “professed his love and his willingness to teach the love of God by word and deed,” referring to the late Pope as a “modern day Peter.”

Bishop Cunningham recalled Benedict’s self-description, delivered during his first public appearance as Pope where he “introduced himself as a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord to the crowd below in St. Peter’s Square.” Bishop Cunningham lauded the late Pope as a teacher who “devoted himself and his life to preaching the word of God.”

A memorial Mass was also held the following day at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Syracuse’s westside. 

“The Basilica is a significant place in the Diocese,” Father Andrew Baranski says, as the only local Papal Basilica. Father says this designation conveys a unique bond of communion with the Holy Father. “It certainly holds a place in a very special way of praying. As we remember the late Pope Benedict, we honor him with our prayers and thanksgiving for his wonderful years of service.” 


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