(this is the Coat of Arms of his Holiness, Benedict XVI)
A friend asked me the other day what I thought of the new pope, and how things have transpired since he was elected. I thought it was an interesting thing to inquire about, so here are my thoughts thus far:
- Pope Benedict XVI is not going to be a globe-trotting messenger as was the case with John Paul II. This is not only because of his age, but also because of the sort of man he is. He’s quiet, reflective, introverted. On a recent vacation to northern Italy he took three cases of books with him to read and a piano to play. The pope enjoys classical music.
- He’s tired of being the watch-dog, the enforcer. For twenty plus years Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This means he was responsible for policing lots of stuff and lots of people in the Church. In past centuries the name of this position was the Grand Inquisitor. That is, the one that safeguards the truths of the faith by diligent attention to who’s teaching what where. And if they aren’t doing it right, corrections were made. In any case, I think he’s quite pleased to be doing something different now; something he enjoys – being a grandfatherly pastor and shepherd.
- He’s very good one-on-one – Benedict XVI recently had Hans Kung over for dinner (to Castel Gandolfo, the summer residence of the papacy). Two old Tubingen professors having a pleasant visit. Even though as the Enforcer, Ratzinger had to discipline Kung previously. Kinda like a line from The Godfather, isn’t it? “It’s not personal, it’s business.”
A lot of pundits predicted that Benedict XVI would come out cracking the whip, shaping the Church up, etc. I wouldn’t be holding my breath for that sort of thing.
A little parting Italian for this blog entry: Viva Il Papa! (Long Live the Pope!)