As the Catholic world knows, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has passed on to the Kingdom. Speaking as a Theology professor, I can say how groundbreaking many of his words were, especially in the historical context in which they were offered. Could he have done more about the sexual misconduct scandal that is still rocking the Church? Perhaps, but he did take unprecedented steps in the wake of the scandal that previous popes were not inclined to do. Pope Benedict, for instance, severely sanctioned Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, who built a culture of sexual misconduct in the diocese of Metuchen that he established. I can attest to this as I experienced, first hand, this culture of misdeeds, being part of the diocese.
He was known as a hardline conservative, yet many of thoughts were way ahead of his time. As early as the 1960’s, then Joseph Ratzinger, spoke against cultural biases and identity politics, so much in favor today. He did not see Heaven or Salvation as the exclusive province of Catholicism. He would simply ask the powerful question; Could the Hindu that lives down the street act more Christian than professed Catholic? The answer is a resounding, YES. While this simple question may be viewed as a comment on the times, one must realize that it has powerful Biblical backing.
In the Gospels, we read; “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
“Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you; the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him". (Matthew 21:28-32)
In this story, Jesus is demonstrating that good works are much better than empty words of praise.
A further example of the Biblical backing of Benedict’s words occurs in the words of Peter to the leaders of Judaism; Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right". (Acts 10:34-35)
Essentially, acceptance in the eyes of the Lord is not a matter of birthright or culture, it is a matter of good works and a good manner of living. Jesus, Peter, and Benedict did not speak of who was to get into Heaven, as they all knew we, by our actions, determine our eternity.
Benedict; PAX ET LAETITIAQUE TECUM, REQUIESCE IN PACE