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Yuletide blessings for Pope Benedict and Ukraine

Randy Mancini 12 December 28, 2022
Pope Francis looks down during the weekly general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican on December 28, 2022. - Pope Francis said on December 28, 2022 that former pontiff, 95, whose health has steadily been deteriorating, is "very ill" and he is praying for him. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP) (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)
Pope Francis looks down during the weekly general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican on December 28, 2022. – Pope Francis said on December 28, 2022 that former pontiff, 95, whose health has steadily been deteriorating, is “very ill” and he is praying for him. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP) (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN Shannon Kelland
UPDATED 4:39 PM PT – Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Pope Francis released a new apostolic letter on Wednesday where he commemorated Saint Francis de Sales, the “Doctor of Divine Love” and urged people to pray for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s health.

Wednesday is 400th anniversary of the death of St. Francis de Sales. In addition to being a prolific writer, the saint was the bishop of Geneva and Switzerland, and was a co-founder of the Visitation Sisters. For this event an apostolic letter totum was released.

Pope Francis believes the French saint’s “flexibility and his farsighted vision have much to say to us.”

The Pope relayed St. Francis story in a new apostolic letter to advise his followers on the struggles of the world today.

“A life, in other words, that rediscovers the wellsprings of joy and avoids the temptation of self-centeredness. For “the great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless”” the letter said.

Pope Francis claimed the best way to summarize the spiritual legacy of Saint Francis is “Everything pertains to love.”

The pope also emphasized the importance of Francis’ teaching being applied to life today.

“He bids us set aside undue concern for ourselves, for our structures and for what society thinks about us, and consider instead the real spiritual needs and expectations of our people.” stated in the apostolic letter.

In the pope’s general audience, he summarized his letter and connected the wisdom of St. Francis to touch on poverty occurring today in his catechesis.

After the catechesis, there was an exchange of greeting in various languages. In response to the representative for the English language, Pope Francis extended his wishes for a Merry Christmas to all and a happy New Year. He highlighted the United States.

At the end of the audience Pope Francis sent out a series of blessings.

“My thoughts go to the young people, the sick, the elderly and to newlyweds. May the child of Bethlehem give you his light and his comfort” the Pope said.

He also gave his sentiments to “tormented Ukraine oppressed brutality of war” a blessing for “the long for gift of peace.”

In addition, the Pope highlighted the health of his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict.

"I would like to ask you all for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who in silence is supporting the Church. Remember him – he is very ill – asking the Lord to console him, and sustain him in this witness of love for the Church, until the end."#PopeFrancis pic.twitter.com/olWyYugUaU

— Vatican News (@VaticanNews) December 28, 2022

After the general audience speech, Pope Francis visited his predecessor at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in Vatican City.

In addition, Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni, confirmed that “in the last few hours there has been a deterioration due to the advancement of (Benedict’s) age.”

“The situation at the moment remains under control and (he is) continually monitored by his doctors,” Bruni added.

Pope Benedict resigned in February 2013 due to his advancing age. He is the first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415 nearly 600 years prior.

“He [Benedict] served our Church in many roles; priest, scholar, diocesan bishop, curial official, and Pontiff. May Christ reward him for his loving service,” said Archbishop of Washington, D.C.

Benedict’s legacy has been tainted by scrutiny during his time as Archbishop of Munich and Freising. As Archbishop in 1977 through 1982, the Church had commissioned a report into abuse by the Catholic clergy that was published in January. The report found that Benedict had been informed of four cases of sexual abuse involving minors, two of which occurred during his time in Munich.

Wednesday’s audience concluded with Pope Francis stating “from my heart I bless you.”