Pope Benedict remembered at cathedral Mass

Just hours after Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was laid to rest in Rome, a small crowd of worshipers gathered for mid-day Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross to remember and pray for him.

An image of the late pope was placed to the left of the cathedral's main altar, flanked by vases filled with white roses. As worshipers entered the cathedral, several stopped before it, bowed their heads, and made the sign of the cross.

The principal celebrant of the memorial Mass was Auxiliary Bishop Robert Reed. In his welcoming remarks, the bishop reminded those in attendance of the purpose of their gathering.

"We come together, friends ... in this our cathedral church, to join the people across the globe praying for the soul of our dear departed Pope Benedict XVI."

In his homily, Bishop Reed recounted his time as a seminarian in Rome, when he would see then-Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, walking through St. Peter's Square.

"I would often see him passing by alone on his way, no doubt, from his apartment that he shared with a cat to his office, just wearing a simple black cassock. It's important for me to recall that this future pope and successor of St. Peter so frequently passed me by. It's important for me to recall that he was a pilgrim just like you and me."

Throughout his homily, Bishop Reed built on the image of Pope Benedict as a pilgrim who, like all Christians, had gifts and flaws but sought to draw closer to Christ.

"In the past days, on social media and in conversation, much has been made of the last spoken words of Pope Benedict: 'Lord, I love you,'" Bishop Reed said. "Those are not easy words to say with sincerity. It's a simple summation, really, of his life, his pilgrimage, of his books, and other writings."

He referenced recent remarks by Cardinal George Pell, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, and Pope Francis as a man of great caring and insight who always sought to encounter the Lord through his teaching.

And he called it "fake news" that Pope Benedict was sometimes labeled as a fundamentalist.

"Rather, he very much believed in reason, in tradition, in learning, and he was a gentleman, a German professor, a man of culture and courtesy," Bishop Reed said.

Pope Benedict, he said, was "a fellow pilgrim of ours and a teacher of great wisdom and clarity."

Bishop Reed concluded his homily quoting Pope Benedict, who said, "Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed. Each of us is loved. Each of us is necessary."

"Let those words sink in with hearts full of gratitude to God as we place into his eternal embrace this faithful shepherd, Benedict XVI, a true Servant of the Servants of God," Bishop Reed said.