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Archive for March 26th, 2008

       One of the best things to come from Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States will be that people will get to know him.

            There’s a lack of awareness of who he is for three reasons:

            He follows Pope John Paul II, who revolutionized the papacy. Before his election, the papacy had basically been a stay-at-home job. When John Paul with his fine stage presence set out globe-trotting, he captured the world’s imagination. With telecommunications, John Paul took the office public as no one before him. His is a hard act to follow.

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Not all popes are great theologians.  Yet the present Pontiff can rightly be considered one of the greatest theological minds to assume the Chair of Peter.

Prior to his election on April 19, 2005, Joseph Ratzinger looked forward to a retirement in which he could set to work on scholarly projects that had been placed on the “to do” list on account of his pastoral service to the Church in Germany (1977-1981) and then to the universal Church as chief doctrinal officer at the Vatican (1981-2005). The present Pope has always been at home in libraries and lecture halls where he has delved into historical and doctrinal problems that occupy members of the theological guild.  Although erudite in ancient and modern languages, and in all of the main currents of Catholic thought from the early centuries to the present, Pope Benedict XVI has always understood the theological craft to be in service to the faith of ordinary Christians.  At the end of a commentary he wrote on Vatican II, where he was an advisor to the bishops assembled in Rome for that historic Council (1962-1965), Father Ratzinger wrote: “In the final analysis the Church lives, in sad as well as joyous times, from the faith of those who are simple of heart.” 

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