"I believe that Pope Francis will quickly declare Benedict XVI a saint" - Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki
"The news of the death of Pope Benedict XVI filled my heart with pain because he was close to me," Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, Metropolitan of Lviv of the Russian Orthodox Church, commented for Vatican News the message, which was received on December 31, 2023, from the Vatican.
The Hierarch of the Roman Catholic Church explained that he had the opportunity to meet Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger when he was the second secretary of John Paul II. The prefect of the Congregation for the doctrine of the Faith had an audience with the Holy Father every Friday.
"He was always very warm, pleasant, and interested in my life. And then, as his second secretary, I could get to know him even more. He was a very vulnerable person," Archbishop Mokrzycki recalls, adding that Pope Benedict always had a kind word for him and was like a father.
Communion with Benedict XVI was also a school of prayer for the Lviv Roman Catholic Metropolitan. "He always devoted a lot of time to prayer. He worked very hard, prepared for meetings, and prepared his sermons. And he was also very fond of meeting people during audiences," he recalls, adding that he owes Pope Emeritus his love for the Liturgy.
"Later, when he appointed me Archbishop of Lviv, he personally ordained me a bishop in St. Peter's Basilica. And later, when I came to Rome, he always invited me to his house. He was very interested in my work and my service in Ukraine. He always assured me of his prayer, and memory, and also helped me to ensure that everything went well here, that our church developed," Metropolitan Mokrzycki said.
The last meeting took place in November, a few weeks before his death. "He still felt very good. He asked us about the situation in Ukraine during this war and assured us of his prayer and care. We will always remember him in our prayers. I believe that Pope Francis will quickly declare him a saint," Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki said.