Roman Journal: On the Election of Benedict XVI--5
Our Sunday Visitor Publisher Greg Erlandson traveled to Rome to cover the Papal Conclave. He'll filed reports as the week progressed with his observations and commentary.
"In choosing Cardinal Ratzinger as the next pope, the cardinals have chosen a man well known to them for many years. Those who have met him invariably talk ofhis gentleness, his shyness and at the same time his intellectual abilities and his penetrating insights into the challenges facing Christianity and modern society.
"It is my hope that American Catholics will come to appreciate his selection of the name Benedict. As cardinal, Pope Benedict had a special devotion to St. Benedict, the founder of modern monasticism, and therefore a great saint of spirituality. Less appreciated may be the fact that he is also the patron of Europe.
"In choosing a western European with such a devotion, the cardinals are clearly saying that the Church's struggle for the soul of the West, for Europe and for America, is not lost. The third world is critical for the Church, and the internationalization of the Church must and will continue to occur in this papacy. But if Christianity is to obey its evangelical mandate, then it must not throw in the towel in those societies where consumerism and moral relativism are most dominant. Pope Benedict is clearly accepting this challenge.
American Catholics who are frustrated by a certain lack of Catholic identity, particularly younger Catholics, are likely to find in Pope Benedict a leader who will encourage a rediscovery of our intellectual and spiritual roots. Like John Paul II, he is confident in the truths of the Church and of the Gospel. Contrary to some stereotypes, he is not a "grand inquisitor," but a man who speaks movingly of the love and mercy of God.
Finally, I think that Pope Benedict will be truly his own man. The college surely did not intend him to be only a caretaker of the legacy of John Paul II. This is a man with more than 50 years of theological experience. He is one of the few key remaining theologians of the Second Vatican Council. He will bring to the task of leading the Catholic Church the insights of these past 50 years. He knows the Vatican Curia. He knows the leaders of the Church around the world. His learning curve will be short, and his impact is likely to be profound."
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