On Sunday, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was installed as Pope Benedict XVI, finalizing him as the 264th successor of Peter. It has been a tough week for the new pope’s image with the media and some of the masses now suddenly coming down hard on Cardinal Ratzinger after spending last month praising his predecessor. Despite these doubts, Cardinal Ratzinger was a good choice.
Almost all of the headlines after he was elected put a negative light on him as an inflexible authoritarian who will drastically choke the church into submission of what he sees as correct doctrine. There also has been a sense that he is intolerant of other Christian traditions and faiths. Worst of all, many portray him as a second place John Paul, one who is just as conservative but lacking everything that made the late pope popular.
I must admit I had my own reservations, but in the last week Benedict has proven in his first two homilies that he wants to shake his image as intolerant theologian and become the compassionate pastoral father that his role demands.
He began his reign with his first mass last Wednesday focusing on ecumenical dialogue and unity, calling it "a primary commitment." Benedict XVI explained, "Theological dialogue is necessary, in-depth knowledge of the historical reasons of choices made in the past is perhaps indispensable. But what is urgent in the main is that ‘purification of the memory,’ so many times recalled by John Paul II, which alone can dispose spirits to receive the full truth of Christ."
And it was at his inaugural mass Sunday that he displayed the heart of a humble shepherd willing to serve his flock,calling himself "the servant of the servants of God." It was in his homily that he disarmed the critics that recklessly labeled him as intolerant and medieval. "My real program of governance is not to do my own will, not to pursue my own ideas, but to listen, together with the whole Church, to the word and will of the Lord, to be guided by him, so that he himself will lead the Church at this hour of our history,"
John Paul II may be a hard act to follow, but Benedict XVI will carry on the legacy of his predecessor while still making his unique impact, and if he could not do the job then the conclave would not have chosen him so quickly. Clearly, their vote of confidence is with him.
"And now, at this moment, weak servant of God that I am, I must assume this enormous task, which truly exceeds all human capacity. How can I do this? How will I be able to do it?" he asked.
"I do not have to carry alone what in truth I could never carry alone. All the saints of God are there to protect me, to sustain me and carry me. And your prayers, my dear friends, your indulgence, your love, your faith and your hope accompany me," the 78-year-old Pope said at his inaugural address.
This is a man who stands in a position of great influence, not just of Catholics but for all Christian traditions. In response to the great burden that this man holds, Christians around the world, Catholics and non-Catholic alike, should offer their prayers that God leads and guides this man through the trials that lay ahead.
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Title: The pope is listening | Author: Joseph Beaudreau | Section: Opinions | Published Date: 2005-04-27 | Internal ID: 4497