Bishop Warfel reflects on the death of Pope Benedict XVI

Pope and Bishop Warfel
Pope Benedict
Bishop Michael Warfel
Posted at 7:29 PM, Dec 31, 2022
and last updated 2023-01-02 13:08:29-05

For the first time in 600 years, a Pope has passed away without being at the helm of the Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict XVI is known for his short papacy - eight years - and resigning to a retirement of prayer. Making occasional public appearances but remaining a reverent member of the church.

He passed away on December 31, 2022, at the age of 95.

Bishop Michael Warfel of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings reflected: “He was a very gentle soul. That's one of the things you remember. Very gentle.”

Pope Benedict

Warfel has been a Bishop for nearly 30 years, meeting three Popes in his time as a leader - Pope John Paul II, the current Pope Francis, and the late Benedict XVI.

For many, meeting the head of church is a huge honor, and for Bishop Warfel, the more he met with them the easier it became, because, he says, they’re just like anyone else.

“What are the issues that you're facing? And the important part of it was to make connections and to develop support for the bishops around the world and vice versa for the bishops supporting the ministry of the pope.”

Warfel says that Pope meets every five years with appointed Bishops to discuss important matters or needs within Dioceses.

Bishop Michael Warfel
Bishop Michael Warfel

Although Bishop Warfel described him as an introvert, he left his mark on Catholicism. “Pope Benedict is very much of a traditionalist… and much of society, from the perspective of the Catholic Church, has lost its way, you know, and with no real grounding, he really wanted to provide solid grounding doctrinally and morally, especially for Catholics.”

Coadjutant to the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, Bishop Jeffrey Fleming, says the church lost a man of utter reverence.

“He just kept us all in prayer and kept the church in prayer. And that was really his ministry. I think these last couple of years, especially with his. As he got older and got more infirmed and couldn't travel much. So just being able to be there and be present. I know Pope Francis visited with him, so just that prayerful, stable presence.”

Benedict made his last public appearance in his papacy in February 2013.

He largely kept his work that he would live a life of prayer in his retirement. He was the oldest elected pope in 275 years and the first German papal in almost a thousand years.

“He was well known, very well-known and appreciated for all the various services that he had rendered over his whole time as a priest, bishop and pope.”