Under the Rule of Benedict
To listen to this program via Real Player, please click here.
Please note: This script cannot exactly reflect the transmission, as it was prepared before the service was broadcast and may include editorial notes prepared by the producer.
FX cheering crowds
Link PTC It’s Ash Wednesday and thousands of people are standing on their seats craning for a glimpse of the Pope as he goes by on his open air Popemobile. He’s arriving for his weekly audience here at St Peter’s Basilica.
Link PTC There he goes, he’s just gone past, waving and smiling to the crowds, whom seem as excited to see him as the pilgrims were who greeted the stooped figure of the late John Paul. He was, of course, the consummate showman. This slim, modest theologian clearly isn’t but he does look happier and far more relaxed than the somewhat awestruck man who stepped out onto the balcony here to greet the world as the new Pope.
News Archive: Announcement of new Pope
Studio link: I was in the square on April the nineteenth last year and saw the ecstatic reactions on the faces of some – and the expressions of shock and horror on others. I didn’t see it myself but one archbishop is said to have burst into tears of rage when the name Ratzinger was announced. This after all, was the man who’d spent twenty four years as the Vatican Enforcer. As head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – formerly the Inquisition – he was feared and even loathed for his strict disciplining of clergy and theologians who didn’t toe the doctrinal line. Not for nothing did he gain the moniker “God’s Rottweiler.” He was also German, distinctly not the Latin American or African many had hoped for. So it was hardly surprisingly the reaction in St Peter’s Square was mixed.
News Archive vox pops
Germany doesn’t have a catholic tradition. The majority of the population is not Roman Catholic so I’m a bit disappointed. I expected someone from Italy, from Spain, from any of the Latin American countries.
It is a good thing I hope he will be for the future and he will change because yesterday he was more conservative.
It should have been someone from another continent. It would have been better.
I want to say I’m happy as a dog with two tails (laugh) because Pope JP II left so many challenges behind and we want a Pope would will be able to stand up to these challenges.
Studio Link: Joseph Ratzinger has been Pope Benedict the Sixteenth for nearly twelve months – a period which could be described as the year the dog didn’t bite. Over the next forty minutes I’ll be looking at what happened to the so-called Rottweiler. Is this just the honeymoon period or are those Catholics who were so appalled last April justly delighted with their new pope? Who is the real Benedict and where is he taking his billion-strong flock?
Act. Benedict + fx crowd papal audience Ash Wednesday
Dear Brothers and Sisters, today we begin our Lenten journey when the Church invites us to ponder Christ’s saving work …….
He must think that it’s a funny joke that God’s played on him. He wanted to go home when he was 75 and JPII wouldn’t allow him. (o’collins) dur: 0’11
Insert Tumi: There are rumours that he had spoken once to John Paul II that the time had come to have an African pope.
Insert Power: It’s difficult to imagine anyone this day and age who knows the government of the church well, that anybody in that situation woul actually want to be pope
Studio link: Fr Gerry O’Collins, Cardinal Tumi and Father Edmund Power. So was it that a 78 (alt: 79) year old German theologian from Bavaria, who longed for retirement, became Pope. The Cardinals who came from around the world for the archaic election process known as the conclave, first set out their priorities for the Church. Among them: relations with other churches and religions, the wealth gap, the loss of faith in Europe, and internally, the desire for more devolved decision-making, known as “collegiality”. But they had a problem – John Paul the second had been Pope for so long that only two of them had any experience of electing one. And as they sat in the Sistine Chapel they realised they hardly knew each other. The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor.
Insert: Cormac: It was an extraordinary time. We looked at each other and we listened to each other. But all the time you were kind of looking at who was standing up and thinking well what’s he like. Before you went into the conclave Cardinal Ratzinger made that famous speech in which he decried a dictatorship of relativism – was it what helped the Cardinals decide on him? There is no doubt that during those days he did make a very big impression on us. Of course we all knew hi m so I suppose a lot of us thought we didn’t expect to be electing a Pope at the age of 78 and therefore it was only gradually that it became clearer to a lot of us that the quality of the person was what mattered. But when a man is elected Pope then he is immediately he is the Pope for everyone and it doesn’t matter what you thought before now you accept him as Peter for the whole flock.
Studio link: But not everyone in the Roman Catholic Church is as convinced by the new Pope. Frances Kissling is President of the US-based Catholics for a Free Choice.
There is no reason and no indication that Benedict will not as vehemently punish, silence and make difficulties for any theologian, politician or other person within the church that doesn’t tow the line in orthodox ways. Ratzinger was not, when he was the Head of the Congregation for the Doctrines of the Faith, he was not a high profile public individual. He did not scream and yell and write in hysterical tones. He conducted his court in a dignified, powerful manner. He understood that power doesn’t have to say too much it just does.
The Cardinal had this agenda of going after what he called dissident theologians, trying to think how to express Christianity in contemporary terms and some of this he found objectionable and JP II found objectionable and he felt that these people should be reprimanded or silenced or removed from teaching positions.
Studio Link: Father Tom Reese was one such dissident. He was sacked as editor of the Catholic magazine ‘America’, just before Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope.
One estimate is that he silenced or reprimanded around 200 theologians during his term there. On the other hand when you meet him personally as I did when I interviewed him, I found him absolutely charming. When he came on to the world stage everyone expected this fierce, grim man who would shake his finger and people were absolutely charmed by his personality, his humility, his smile. I think it won people over very much.
Studio link: In fact the Pope surprised many last year by inviting his former university colleague and arch dissident Hans Kung to see him, something Pope John Paul II would never have done. These two very different sides to the Pope seem puzzling. Take also his handling of the Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff. In 1984 Boff was suspended from religious duties and prevented from editing various publications. Ana Flora Anderson is a theologian at Sao Paulo’s Catholic University in Brazil.
Cardinal Ratzinger, when he was a Professor in Germany, it was he who orientated the doctorial thesis of Leonardo Boff on Christology and he liked it so much, gave it a very high mark and helped him even with money to publish his thesis in German at that time. And then Boff wrote a book based on his thesis that was published here ‘Jesus Christ the Liberator’ and some time afterwards when the book was being very criticised in Rome, Cardinal Arns spoke to Cardinal Ratzinger and said to him but how is it possible that you gave him such a high mark for his doctorial thesis and now your saying that his book is dangerous and should not be sold to Catholics etc, and Cardinal Ratzinger answered and said ‘Well you have to understand when you are a university professor you read thesis one way, when you are responsible for the CDF you read books in another way.’
I’m looking up at the fairly anonymous-looking modern building where Cardinal Ratzinger used to live. It’s in a square just off the Vatican and apparently he used to walk down the stairs and through the arches of the old walls, across St Peter’s Square the few hundred yards to his office, stopping on the way to talk to pilgrims about theology and matters of the Church and also to feed stray cats. It’s said he used to stop and feed them on the way over.
FX cross fade
I’ve just walked through the Vatican walls here and I’m now outside a famous bookshop, it’s run by Father Don Gino Balleri – known to everybody whose anybody inside the Vatican. He also knows Cardinal Ratzinger.
I’ve been living in Rome about 50 years. I met many Popes and every day Ratzinger is walking near to the wall and sometimes I met him for the conversation. He’s very reservato, very reserved. Not the big conversation and also he is always alone. Never with the secretary, with the friends, with the cardinals never, never, always alone.
Those of us who have lived in this city for a long time always knew that Cardinal Ratzinger was kind and gentle and not as they sometimes tried to paint him.
Studio Link: Bishop Brian Farrell has worked in the Vatican for many years.
His job was to try to clarify matters of faith, he did that well. His job today is to be Pope which is a very demanding task in a very different context. Everything that he does he wants it to be well motivated, well based on principle and the discussion therefore about the things is probably very different from the discussion we would have had with John Paul II who in a sense was more into action and then to analyse it rather than analyse first and then do what you think you should.
Act: O’Collins set up
Here we are up on the terrace of our university where some of us live and we look straight out at St Peter’s, it looks beautiful this morning. The Verniculum Hill is very close and there’s Garabaldi on his statue up there. It is beautiful. And what will Pope Benedict be doing now? Yesterday he had an audience and he’s getting ready to make a spiritual retreat ……(dip under link)
Studio Link: The avuncular Father Gerry O’Collins is professor of Christology at the Gregorian University in Rome. He’s known the pope since the 1960s when they were both teaching at Tubingen University. They used to go to Mozart Concerts together. But Father Gerry says the pope kept to himself and that what he was best known for was his keen intellect. A well-respected theologian, Joseph Ratzinger embraced the work of St Augustine whose emphasis on the personal quest for grace appealed to him more than the scholastic arguments of thinkers like St Thomas Aquinas. And it’s in the light of this preference, says Father Gerry, that you should read his first papal encyclical.
I think Augustine very much encouraged him in his first encyclical to take a very positive stand about love as erotic passionate desire and to see passionate love between man and woman as the epitome as he called it, it should lead on to self giving love, agape, but he takes the love between man and woman as the epitome of things. That’s very different from St Thomas Aquinas. Thomas Aquinas says the paradigm of love is a mother’s love for her child.
Studio Link: The encyclical, called Deus Caritas Est – God is Love – was not the finger-wagging reminder of the “Truth” many had expected. It was universally praised. Catholic writer, Margaret Hebblewaite.
If you had asked any disgruntled Catholic what could be the best possible theme for a papal encyclical they couldn’t have thought of anything better than love as a theme and he comes out with not just the right theme but a very illuminating interpretation of it full of richness and scholarship and charity (0’24)
Studio link: Benedict quotes widely from Nietzsche to Descartes and this treatise on Christian love is a far cry from his image as God’s Rotweiller. Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor.
I don’t think any of us like that word Rotweiller really. I mean if you like a German Shepherd (laugh) and that his work now isn’t it to shepherd the whole people of God and I think he’s shown in this first year there’s been no words of condemnation on anything. Some are suggesting that whereas the last Pope impressed with the force of his personality, it’s about the force of this Pope’s ideas. Would you agree with that? Well like all truths, partly true. (laugh) I think that it’s true the styles are very, very different. John Paul was a Pauline apostle, all over the world, he liked dominating through his very charismatic presence and that was very effective in its way. Here we have a Pope who is totally the contrast. Much more muted. I am who I am, a quiet priest called to this very high office and I shall do it in my way and so I don’t think we can expect visits all over the world with huge crowds, millions of people. Not only because he may not be physically capable but maybe he thinks there are other ways in which he can exercise this ministry.
Link PTC St Paul Outside the Walls:
I’ve come to the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls – this is one of the four Papal Basilicas in Rome. And coming in to the Basilica I’m really struck by the immense scale of this place. The gold embossed ceilings high about the marble nave and I’m look up towards the shrine which is built above the tomb of St Paul, he’s buried here below the Basilica. High above the nave and the tall columns are circular portraits of all the Popes, the good, the bad and some of the impostors stretching back over the centuries to St Peter. And over here is the illuminated golden portrait of Benedict XVI. He should be quite at home, the Benedictine community has looked after this place for over a thousand years.
Music – Hymn for Lent actuality
Studio link In his inaugural sermon Pope Benedict said he planned to listen to the will of God and be guided by him. That idea’s at the heart of the rule of Benedict, the Saint and patriarch of modern monasticism, whose name Cardinal Ratzinger chose without hesitation. In fact as a young man he’d considered joining a Benedictine monastery and although he didn’t, St Benedict has remained a key part of his spiritual life.
Pope Benedict is a Bavarian as everybody knows and Benedictine life is strongly embedded in their tradition and culture.
Studio Link: Father Edmund Power is Abbot of the Benedictine Monastery of St Paul Outside the Walls. What is it about St Benedict that inspires the new Pope?
Insert Fr Edmund:
St Benedict was born at a period when the Roman Empire was collapsing with the Barbarian invasions and so on and it was his ability to draw the wisdom of the past together in his rule that enabled civilisation to continue during the difficult centuries that followed. Do you think the Benedictine order could be seen as a model for this Pope, his vision of a more simple, more pure church with a strong emphasis on Christian truth? I see Benedictine life and Benedictine structure as more important than that even because Benedictine life has always been rooted in a certain form of democracy based on listening and based on the fact that everyone within the community can actually voice the will of God and then the Abbot at the end of the day having heard the council of all the brothers in the community makes the decision. Now, I think Pope Benedict certainly understands the importance of council, of collegiality, of working together but always inspired by the presence of Christ in the midst of the group that thinks and I think that is one of the reasons why he finds the Benedictine model an attractive one.
FX: News Archive Consistory March 2006
Carti Fratelli Cardinali. Conto su di voi affinche il commune sforzo di dissare lo sguardo sul Cuore aperto di Cristo renda piu sicuro e spedito il cammino verso la piena unita dei cristiani (Dear Cardinals. I am counting on you to see to it that our common endeavour to fix our gaze on Christ’s open Heart will hasten and secure our path towards the full unity of Christians)
Studio link: Last week Pope Benedict created his first batch of new cardinals at a special consistory at the Vatican. Twelve of them are eligible to vote for his successor. But many in the church hierarchy want more responsibility now. Under Pope John Paul 2 there was frustration among bishops who were called to Rome for special synods only to find the conclusions to these meetings had been determined in advance. Pope Benedict appears to be encouraging more open debate. Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor.
Insert Cormac: Quite interesting that at the recent Consistory, he said to us already Cardinals ‘come and spend a day with me’ reflecting and talking together and that hasn’t happened before and it’s very easy in our world particularly in the Catholic Church to feel well you just go to the Pope well in fact I don’t have to run to Rome for anything. The Pope’s task is to keep us in unity knowing that there is diversity. But I think it will be just a little closer and a little freer than it has been in the past. But we shall see.
Studio link: Perhaps the biggest task Benedict has set himself is to roll back the secular tides engulfing Europe. He believes that while the church is shrinking, believers need to stand as a “creative minority” to uphold the truth. In his first general audience as Pope he talked of St Benedict as being ‘a fundamental point of reference for the unity of Europe”. Fr Tom Reese.
He looks back to the golden age when Europe was a Christian continent and had a Christian culture. Everything about it just breathed Christianity, the symbols, the art, the culture of Europe. Kids today can tell you all the star wars characters, they can tell you all the characters in the Harry Potter novels but they probably can’t name more than 5 people in the Bible. They don’t know anything about the saints. That’s the kind of Christian culture he would like to see revived rather than a kind of secular commercial culture full of sex and violence that we see in Europe and the United States. I think he is absolutely right on this. I’m not sure he’s going to be able to accomplish it.
Studio Link: In 2004 he warned against admitting Turkey into the European Union because he saw it as a further dilution of Europe’s Christian identity. And for Benedict the Catholic faith is now a counter-culture, a force for resistance against an anything goes mentality, that so-called “dictatorship of relativism.” His experience of Nazi Germany perhaps under girds his view that unbelief leads to totalitarianism. John Allen, Cardinal Ratzinger’s biographer.
Oh I think it weighs extraordinarily heavily. I think he believes he saw both in national socialism and then later in the soviet system, and of course he had relatives who lived in East Germany; what happens when a state arrogates to itself the right to decide what is and what is not truth and one of the core themes in his theological writings over the years has been that if you give up on objective truth what you get totalitarianism. That is a state that believes that there are simply no limits to its power. And he would see the same thing happening in the West. Not in the form of overt totalitarian dictatorships but in the form of a cultural system, which he names as relativism, which tries to assimilate everything to itself and tries to exterminate any system of thought that would stand up against. And I think he believes that you know just as the church had to stand up against oppression under the Nazis and under the Soviets, it also now has to stand up against a different form of oppression, which is this cultural secularised commitment to relativism.
Studio Link: The row over homosexuals in the priesthood highlights the clash of values between a liberal, secular culture and the catholic one. Last November the Vatican published an instruction banning the ordination of gay priests who display, quote, ‘deeply ingrained homosexual tendencies’ or those who support, quote, the ‘gay culture’. Coinciding as it did with an ongoing investigation of American seminaries, gay priests complained of a witch-hunt. This American priest says the fact I had to disguise his voice says it all.
Insert: anonymous priest (voice is changed)
It’s appalling. I mean, I feel like, first of all I feel like I’m living in Stalinist Russia; where you can’t even speak about the truth. Second of all, I’m celebate, I’m a hard working priest. I think for me to have to skulk around to talk about this is absurd.
The document – from the Congregation for Education – had been in the works for years. But it seemed timed to address the child sex abuse crisis in the American Church, further angering those who say there’s no evidence linking homosexuality to sexual abuse. John Allen again.
What’s behind the document is a couple of factors. One is the perception that in some places in the Western world there is a disproportionate percentage of homosexuals in the priesthood, to the extent that in some places heterosexual candidates might feel uncomfortable and the sense that this needs to be corrected. Secondly is the sexual abuse crisis in the United States and elsewhere, where it is simply a fact that a strong majority of the cases involved same sex contacts between priests and often adolescent males. And third of course is the fact that the Catholic Church has a teaching on homosexually that it is holding that it is objectively disordered and that homosexual conduct is intrinsically evil and so there is a sense that for all of those reasons that some tightening up was necessary. And while Pope Benedict obviously agreed with that, it wasn’t his initiative and I think it would be unfair to hold it up as the prism in which you are to read the first year of his papacy.
Studio link: Maybe, but critics say it will drive gay men out and an already shrinking priesthood is certainly a problem for Benedict.
News Act Pope – Christian Unity
‘During this week of prayer for Christian unity, let us ask the Lord to grant that all his followers may be one. So that the world may believe.…… (fade under link)
Studio Link: When it comes to ecumenism too the pope’s language has changed. As Cardinal Ratzinger he wrote Dominus Iesus which referred to other Churches and faiths as gravely deficient. But now he underlines Christian Unity as a priority. In his very first message as Pope – which sounded like a manifesto – he said his primary commitment was to work “tirelessly towards the reconstitution of the full and visible unity of all Christ’s followers’. Fine words, but he added “Concrete gestures are required” – presumably to both east and west. Bishop Brian Farrell is the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.
I often generalise by saying that we are closer to the Orthodox theologically but further from them psychologically whereas we are closer psychologically to Christians in the Western world but further theologically far distant. So which way do you go? Both (laugh) we continue our dialogue on both sides of the divide.
Studio link: The Head of the Russian Orthodox Church has exchanged positive letters and compliments with Benedict in a way he never did with the late Polish pope. But there are serious problems to overcome – from the nature of the Papacy itself to the claim that Catholics have been poaching souls in the former Soviet Union. Might this Pope’s theological background make it easier to do business with the Orthodox? Bishop Farrell again.
The Orthodox always look to the theological questions as being important. The rest of the questions that can come up can be emotionally charged for a small period of time but then they pass. The theological questions need attention. The moment is now very good because we are on the point of having the first plenary session of the international theological commission of all the orthodox churches together after a period in which we couldn’t agree and I think that all of the Orthodox Churches are coming to the meeting with a very positive sense of wanting to make it a success.
Studio link: Not only that but the Pope is planning to meet the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul in November. To be followed by a trip to Moscow? Watch this space. And what about the Protestant churches? Well, yes it seems important to the German pope to continue dialogue – he’s meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury later this year – but sceptics may be forgiven for thinking the Vatican is more worried about competition from Protestants. In particular from Pentecostal churches.
Act: Church service Sao Paulo
Studio link: It’s 6am on a Sunday morning on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil. This is the most populous catholic country in the world but vast numbers have been defecting to the new movements, many of them inspired by the health and wealth gospels of American evangelists. This is the Catholic Church’s reply.
Act: Church service continued
Studio Link: Here in this enormous warehouse twelve thousand are attending mass overlooked by a picture of Pope Benedict XVI. He once criticised this sort of church but Latin American bishops support it and next year they’ve invited the pope to attend a conference to discuss how to re-evangelise the continent. Perhaps he’ll be persuaded. But that’s not the only issue worrying the church – there’s Aids and the fact that the Church’s stance on condoms is putting it at odds with the faithful. Dulce Xavier is from the organisation, ‘Catholic Women for the right to decide’.
Insert: Xavier in Portuguese plus translation
We did a poll in February 2005 in 143 municipalities. 97% of Catholics believe that the government should encourage the use of condoms and distribute them. With respect to contraceptives 85% believe it should be up to the individual to choose and 85% of Catholics think that the government should not take any decisions based on any religious groups. For us this is very important because it shows that while Catholics have their religion and agree with many things, in relation to this area of health they’d rather follow the lines set down by public health.
Studio link: Intense debates over sex and condoms are being held across the church which is increasingly becoming a global church of the south – where the debate really matters. But while the style of the Papacy has changed, the teachings will stay the same.
Fx: Jewish synagogue Cologne – Shofar and cantor
Studio Link: World Youth Day in Cologne last year. Here was a German Pope in the city where Jews first lived in Germany visiting a synagogue. It was a powerful gesture and much praised, but Benedict still has a lot of making up to do in the eyes of non-Christians who also took offence at being called gravely deficient. Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald is the former head of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious dialogue.
It’s a document for catholic theologians. If we had written it as an office for dialogue we would not have used that language. But if we are truly Catholic Christians we believe that we have the help of all the sacraments and these are objective means of growing in holiness and they don’t have them. That doesn’t mean to say that they are not holy, they can be holier than us because God is not bound to his sacraments. We also have our own explanations of how we can see other people and how we can see that God is working in the lives of other people. Perhaps they don’t like this explanation that we give but that conforms to our theology and I think we just have to say to them excuse us we are doing our theology, you don’t have to agree but please don’t be offended by what we are saying.
Studio Link: Archbishop Fitzgerald has since been moved to Cairo as Papal Ambassador. Many saw his departure as the opening act in a planned shake up of the large, unwieldy Vatican bureaucracy. Vatican-watchers also regard it as a demotion. An Arabic speaker, Archbishop Fitzgerald played a key role in John Paul’s effort to engage with other faiths, in particular with Islam. Many in the Vatican disagreed with John Paul’s approach and wanted a “tougher love”, if you like a more muscular defence of Christianity in the face of Islam. John Allen.
Benedict is more of a hawk on the relationship of Islam than John Paul was. Under John Paul the effort was to always reach out to moderates to avoid saying anything provocative, to try to work on the social justice roots that are at the heart or origin of Islamic radicalism and so on. And to avoid getting into tough questions particularly religious freedom for Christians in the Islamic world. Benedict, I think, is much more determined to be outspoken on those questions and to challenge Islamic nations to protect the rights of religious minorities especially Christians. And I think there’s every indication that Benedict believes that the dialogue between Catholicism and Islam has matured to a point where we can tell one another the truth and part of the truth, as he sees it, is that any country that does not fully respect the religious liberty of it’s citizens and it’s religious minorities, as he said in Cologne, is not worth of the name civilisation. (0’56)
Studio Link: With the rise of Al Qaeda and its attempts to fan a clash of civilisations, the negative effects on Muslim-Christian relations have been all too visible. Pre-existing tensions in places like Pakistan have been refuelled. And in Nigeria there’s been a rise in violent attacks by both communities. John Onaiyekan is Archbishop of Abuja and President of the Catholics Bishops Conference
Insert: Archbishop Onaiyekan
We have never fought over theological issues, for example whether Mohammed is a true prophet, we have never fought over that, or whether Jesus is God, we’ve never fought over that. We fight about things like sharia. And we believe that no Nigerian should be forced to live under a legal system that he doesn’t approve and this is the problem with Sharia. The …. kept telling us that it doesn’t affect you Christians, but there is no way that will not affect us. I’m hoping that sooner or later we will still come back to a system of a country that is united under one law.
Studio Link: Developing a tougher approach to the Islamic world is most likely to be supported in African countries like Nigeria – a frontline in a battle for souls. But Africa has other challenges for the pope. When Cardinal Tumi of Cameroon went to greet the new Pope at the end of the Conclave, Benedict clasped his hand and told him that he would not forget Africa. He appears to have kept his promise by calling for a Second Synod for Africa. Archbishop Onaiyekan again.<
Insert: Archbishop Onaiyekan
The agenda is not ready yet we are working on it. The issues that are most pressing Africa on today are is the whole question of justice and peace in Africa. How do we govern ourselves well? How do we finish with all these useless wars? How do we make sure that our rulers manage our affairs better? How do we tackle corruption? These are issues which I think concerns everybody but which concerns the Catholic Church in particular. To see what the Church as Church can do, what Christians as Christians should do and above all what our nations and our nations should do.
FX News archive liturgy
Pope Benedict has a full in-tray but he’s set himself a narrower role than that played by John Paul. Turning 79 this month, he’s pacing himself. The first year has been low-key, and a relief for the liberals who feared the worst. Ironically says John Allen, it’s the conservatives who are feeling short-changed.
There is a fear in some conservative sectors of opinion that Ratzinger is not being Ratzinger. That is that he has not come into office and pursued systematically and rapidly the kind of conservative agenda they had expected. Off the record one prominent American Catholic conservative told me just a couple of weeks ago said ‘we thought we were electing Ronald Reagan, we got stuck with Jimmy Carter.’
Studio Link: Benedict may yet have one or two things up his sleeve to please the “Reaganites”. As Vatican Enforcer, he may just have been doing his job but he’s still got a clear vision of a church standing for truth, with himself, successor to St Peter, as the “rock.” As for the man himself, he remains somewhat in the shadows; still playing his piano, feeding his cats, somehow retaining a solitary life away from the spotlight he dutifully steps into. Father Edmund Power.
One sees in him a contemplative nature but at the same time there’s this strong sense of service to the church and that’s what he is doing. I can’t believe he is enjoying it. I get the impression I must say of a tired old man trying very hard to do his best but with a joy and serenity. Unbelievable at his age to start on a new career like that.
This script courtesy of the BBC.