Those of a certain generation might remember the obscure late-1980s sitcom “My Two Dads.” In short, it was about a teenage daughter whose mom died and left her to be cared for by two ex-boyfriends, both of whom loved the girl very much.
One of the fathers was straight-laced, thoughtful and stern, while the other was freewheeling and outgoing. They complimented each other well and always had their daughter’s best interest at heart, despite their different parenting styles.
Now, was this short-lived show television at its finest? It was not.
Still, it came to mind when watching Pope Francis greet Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on Feb. 22 in St. Peter’s Basilica during the consistory to create 19 new cardinals. Two fathers, united in the love of their Church.
How blessed we are to have these two holy men leading our way. While their approaches and personalities certainly differ — the laid-back style of Pope Francis, with his off-the-cuff interviews and unscripted daily homilies, leading the charge toward a new evangelization; and the scholarly, thoughtful Pope Benedict leading a quiet life of prayer and contemplation — their love of the Church is equal.
How blessed Pope Francis is for having a living predecessor in Pope Benedict to count on for encouragement. You think you have pressure at your job? One can’t help but wonder about the private conversations between the only two men alive who know what it means to be a successor of St. Peter.
And while Pope Francis is stirring up the faithful in unprecedented ways, Pope Benedict, who humbly stepped out of the spotlight and into the shadows of retirement just over a year ago, continues to be a vital part of the Church — not just symbolically on occasions like the consistory, but through his prayer and, no doubt, guidance.
Observing their interactions throughout the past year, their genuine admiration for each other is evident. Before the prayer service during the consistory — fittingly held on the feast of the Chair of St. Peter — Pope Emeritus Benedict took off his zucchetto as a sign of respect before being warmly greeted by Pope Francis. The two men shook hands and held each other by the shoulders, smiling.There they were, together again — our two fathers, contrasting in style but united in Christ.
Scott Warden is associate editor of OSV Newsweekly.