Benedict may join beatification Mass of Paul VI, says Vatican official

(Photo: REUTERS / Tony Gentile)Pope Francis (R) greets Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI before a mass in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican September 28, 2014. Former Pope Benedict will take part in a gathering of elderly people at the Vatican on Sunday, only his third appearance at a public event since he resigned in February 2013.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI might step out of retirement once more and join the beatification Mass of Pope Paul VI on October 19, says a Vatican official.

A journalist asked Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, what contribution Benedict would make to the two-week synod of bishops gathered to discuss the role of the family in the faith.

"It is not expected that the Pope emeritus will take part in the synod, which is so committing and long," Lombardi replied according to a Catholic News Agency report.

"Since his resignation, the Pope emeritus has been living a private life in prayer."

"[But] everybody hopes to see him for Paul VI's beatification," he added.

The beatification Mass will be held at the end of the extraordinary synod on the family, the gathering of bishops that Paul VI instituted and promoted during his papacy.

It won't be much of a surprise if Benedict attends the ceremony that puts Paul VI one step closer to sainthood.

The late Pope appointed Joseph Ratzinger as Munich archbishop in 1977, then made him a cardinal during his last formal meeting that year.

Paul VI admired Ratzinger's work in the academic sphere, according to Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, who worked at the Vatican Secretariat of State during his papacy.

Re, who also held various posts during the papacies of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, recalled that Paul VI kept a copy of Ratzinger's "Introduction to Christianity" in his personal library.

"Paul VI described Ratzinger as 'remarkable teacher of theology' at the consistory, and this proves the Pope's deep admiration for Ratzinger," Re said in a Nov. 2009 interview with L'Osservatore Romano.

Benedict joined the canonization Mass of John XXIII and John Paul II, two popes whom he admired.

Copyright © 2014 Ecumenical News