Precinct 333

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Habemus Papam!

God has given us Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new Pope Benedict XVI.

He was elected in only four ballots, which tells me that the Cardinals are pretty firmly united behind him. I also cannot help but suspect that this is the man who John Paul the Great would have chosen as his successor.

As I expected, Joseph Ratzinger did not choose to be called John Paul III. I had a funny feeling that Benedict would be the choice, and have said so repeatedly over the last few days. Many are linking him to the shy Pope Benedict XV, who tried so hard to end World War I. I think another model to consider would be Benedict XIV, who was concerned about the accommodation of Christian truth to the practices of non-Christian cultures.

I find the new pontiff’s words to the faithful inspiring and appropriate. Pope Benedict, for all his gigantic intellect, remains a humble man of deep spirituality.

"Dear brothers and sisters, after our great pope, John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble worker in God's vineyard.

I am consoled by the fact that the Lord knows how to work and how to act, even with insufficient tools, and I especially trust in your prayers.

In the joy of the resurrected Lord, trustful of his permanent help, we go ahead, sure that God will help, and Mary, his most beloved mother, stands on our side.

Thank you."

We shall see how this papacy will develop. Will he be a pope in the image of John Paul the Great? Or will he be something completely different?

Update: I commented on the London Times piece on Pope Benedict’s youth in Nazi Germany. His detractor’s are already making scurrilous comments about him in relation to his brief – and legally mandated – membership in the Hitler Youth and military service. The Jerusalem Post provides some excellent insight into the issue – and also the important work of this pope in his predecessor’s reconciliation with the Jewish faith.


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