On Friday, November 4, in a customary practice for the month of November, the Pope celebrated Mass at the Altar of the Cathedra in the Vatican Basilica in remembrance of the cardinals, archbishops and bishops who died during the course of the last year. Members of the College of Cardinals concelebrated with the Holy Father.
At the start of his homily, Benedict XVI recalled the names of the cardinals who died during the last twelve months: "Leo Scheffczyk, Pio Taofinu'u, Raul Francisco Primatesta, Angel Suquia Goicoechea, Johannes Willebrands, Louis-Albert Vachon, Dino Monduzzi and Mario Francesco Pompedda."
He went on: "In order to purify the white robe received at Baptism from all blemishes and stains, the community of believers offers the Sacrifice of the Eucharist and other prayers for the souls of those whom death has called to pass from time to eternity." Praying for the deceased, he said, "is a noble practice, one that presupposes faith in the resurrection of the dead, as revealed to us by Sacred Scripture and, finally and completely, by the Gospel."
The Pope dwelt on the fact that each of the cardinals and bishops "was called to put the words of the Apostle Paul – 'for me to live is Christ' – into practice and to make them his own. This vocation, received at Baptism, was strengthened in them with the Sacrament of Confirmation and with the three grades of Holy Orders, and was constantly nourished by participation in the Eucharist.
"By this sacramental journey," he added, "their 'being in Christ' was rendered more solid and profound, to the point that death was no longer a loss – because they had already evangelically 'lost' everything for the Lord and for the Gospel – but a 'gain:' that of finally meeting Jesus, and with Him the fullness of life."
The Holy Father concluded by asking the Lord "to enable our dear deceased brother cardinals and bishops to attain the longed-for goal. We ask this trusting in the intercession of Mary Most Holy and in the prayers of the many people who knew them in life and appreciated their Christian virtues."