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El Confidencial Digital
Luis Herrera Mesa
Former Vice President of the University of Navarra
On the afternoon of January 30, 1998, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, arrived by plane at the airport of Noáin. The reason for the trip was the doctorate honoris causa that he was to receive the following day at the University of Navarra, but in the four days he spent in Pamplona he also had the opportunity to visit the Cathedral and various places in the city. Probably none of us professors, students or doctors who spoke with him could have imagined that that affable cardinal of attention who was interested in every detail would become Benedict XVI, the 265th Pontiff of the Catholic Church, seven years later.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, born in Marktl am Inn (Bavaria, Germany) 95 years ago, studied at the technical school of Philosophy and Theology in Freising and at the University of Munich. Ordained a priest in 1951, he received his doctorate in theology two years later. From 1952, he was in charge of Dogmatics and Theology in Freising, and subsequently Full Professor in Bonn, Münster, Tübingen and Regensburg, where he was also Vice-President of that university. In 1977 he was appointed Archbishop of Munich-Friesland and in the same year became a Cardinal by Paul VI. In 1981, John Paul II appointed him Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and since then he has also been President of the International Theological Commission and of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. Cardinal Ratzinger presided over the Commission in charge of elaborating the Catechism of the Catholic Church at the request of John Paul II.
I had the opportunity to meet Cardinal Ratzinger personally because at that time he was position of Vice President of International Office of the University of Navarra.
During his stay in Pamplona, he stayed at the high school Mayor Belagua. group I remember that day 30-I-1998, we had dinner with a small group of people at high school in the midst of a very pleasant conversation. Afterwards we had an after-dinner get-together with the students of the Major who asked the Cardinal different questions and the "tuna" of the high school performed some songs. The then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was at ease among the university students and had a very pleasant evening.
The following day, the academic ceremony was held at classroom Magna, presided over by Bishop Javier Echevarría, Chancellor of the University of Navarra, attended by more than 2,400 people at classroom Magna and via closed circuit television, in various classrooms of Central Building of the University and in the Belagua. high school Mayor Belagua. The main Navarre authorities, the President of the Government of Navarre, Miguel Sanz, the President of the Parliament of Navarre, Lola Eguren, the Archbishop of Pamplona, Monsignor Fernando Sebastián, Cardinals Ángel Suquía and Antonio Mª Rouco and several prelates attended the event.
Before the start of the academic ceremony I also had the opportunity to spend a few moments of pleasant conversation with the Cardinal, who was interested in the research I was carrying out with the staff of award Humboldt, in the field of applied Limnology, at partnership with professors from the University of Munich. With great kindness he offered me to visit him when I went to Rome.
We thank God for the pontificate of Benedict XVI. May he rest in peace.
From left to right, Manuel Casado, Cardinal Ratzinger, Enrique Banús and Luis Herrera.