Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP knew Pope Benedict XVI well, including through their close connection forged for World Youth Day 2008. In a written message and video, Archbishop Fisher shared some of his memories of the late pope.
Pope Benedict XVI holds a special place in the hearts of Catholics in Australia where he is remembered as “the World Youth Day Pope”. In 2008 he gathered with hundreds of thousands of young pilgrims in our harbour city for catechesis and worship.
He was received by the young people as a loving spiritual grandfather and 14 years later we are still reaping the fruits of that visit. In addition to his beautiful preaching at that time, I have many happy memories of private moments with Pope Benedict then and later as he reminisced about his time with us.
Pope Benedict’s connection to Australia was strengthened in 2010, when he canonised St Mary of the Cross MacKillop as Australia’s first recognised saint.
In his homily he spoke of the importance of prayerful teachers in leading people to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Like Mary Mackillop, Benedict XVI led many people to Christ by his teaching and example.
He was surely one of the finest minds and most faithful souls to fill the chair of St Peter in the last two millennia. His unique command of the truths of Christian doctrine and his singular ability to make those truths come alive homiletically and catechetically were a great gift to the Church in troubled times. As a great lover of the Sacred Liturgy his profound theology was developed not in his desk chair so much as on his knees.
His writings have already inspired generations and will undoubtedly be studied for centuries to come. As with St John Paul II, I think we can expect that Pope Benedict will one day be acknowledged as a Doctor of the Church.
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP’s video and written tribute to Pope Benedict XVI (Facebook/Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP)