With the entire Catholic world, I mourn the death of Pope Benedict XVI who will rightly be remembered as a great theologian, scholar, teacher and pastor. His writings were profound and scholarly but at the same time clear and accessible to everyone who took the time to read them carefully.

More than anything else, Pope Benedict was a man of prayer and a true disciple of Jesus. His book, Jesus of Nazareth, is a model for Catholic Biblical scholarship. Pope Benedict utilized the best scriptural research, while always reading the Gospel through the eyes of Faith.

In the first section of Pope Benedict’s first Encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love), the Holy Father described the essence of what it means to be a Catholic: “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

These words were autobiographical. They were a description of Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger, who was a man that had encountered the living person of Jesus Christ and spent his life striving to lead others to meet the Lord of Life.