In a letter dated October 2, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI shared that the death of Fr. Gerhard Winkler touched him profoundly. “The news of the passing of Prof. Dr. Gerhard Winkler O. Cist., which you have conveyed to me, has affected me deeply,” the 94-year-old pope emeritus said. The professor was a close friend of Pope Benedict XVI, and he shared it in the letter saying, “Among all colleagues and friends, he was the closest to me. His cheerfulness and deep faith always attracted me.”
However, what many noticed while reading the letter was when the pope wrote that he looked forward to joining them. “Now he has arrived on the other side, where surely many friends already await him. I hope that I can join their company soon,” he said. (Read: Netflix film ‘The Two Popes’ sheds light on the unlikely friendship between Pope Francis and Pope Benedict)
The statement worried a lot of Catholics, and had them questioning how the pope emeritus is currently.
‘Full of zest for life’
Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Pope Benedict XVI’s personal secretary, spoke to a German newspaper to talk about the pope a few days ago to clear the rumors surrounding the letter. “The art of dying well, that is, ars moriendi, is part of the Christian life. Pope Benedict has been doing that for many years,” Gänswein said.
Seeing that the pope is just six years away from turning a century old, it’s not a surprise that he would feel that way after the death of a close friend. However, the archbishop clarified that the 94-year-old is “full of zest for life”. (Read: 3 German Staples to Celebrate Pope Benedict XVI’s Birthday)
“Yet he is absolutely full of zest for life. He is stable in his physical weakness, crystal clear in his head, and blessed with his typical Bavarian humor,” he said.
Gänswein added that the pope’s letter was “lovingly intended” and was heartfelt, but his words didn’t mean that he “no longer has any desire to live.”