Sunday, February 24, 2013

"Why I came to love Benedict XVI"

Michael Sean Winters has a beautiful reflection on the life and pontificate of Benedict XVI. Winters, who comes from the left of the faithful Catholic spectrum, has grown to admire and love this brilliant and humble man who has devoted his life to God and His Church.

Each day of Benedict's papacy, I have felt a great deal of gratitude for the fact that, whether I agreed with him on this policy or that, the church was blessed to have at the pinnacle of its hierarchy the man who is perhaps the most literate, cultured, learned man in public life today. If Lionel Trilling was correct that there is moral obligation to be intelligent, and I think he was, Benedict hit that moral requirement out of the ballpark. His three-volume trilogy on Jesus of Nazareth may be the most accessible yet profound theological reflection of recent years by anyone anywhere. I have a soft spot for popes like John XXIII who were schooled in church history as well as theology, but it has been an undoubted blessing for the church to have Benedict in the Chair of Peter. True, the Chair of Peter is not a faculty chair, and the Roman church must find better ways of dealing with its own theologians. But, there are not many theologians who can hold a candle to Joseph Ratzinger. His trilogy of books on Jesus not only invite one to engage the issues intellectually, but they inspire a more profound love for the Savior. 
I confess that on the day of his election in 2005, I was worried. On Feb. 28, he will abdicate the office in which he has surprised many of us. The next day, when we go to Mass and the priest does not mention him in the canon, I will miss the reference to "Benedict, our pope." I will miss it long after there is a successor. My dread in 2005 was misplaced. I have come not only to love this pope, but to let his teachings challenge and change me. I am a better Catholic today, and a happier person, because of him. In some of his writings, I felt he was speaking directly to me. Benedict walks into whatever time is left to him and into the historical annals as a good man and a fine pope who directed the church in important ways to remember that what really, really matters in the life of faith is not any ambitious program of human accomplishment, but the ongoing need of Catholics to surrender themselves to the will and the mercy of God. The Christocentric focus of the council has been the focus of Raztinger's entire theological life and the defining characteristic of his papacy. He has sought to impart that vision to the rest of us. Shame on us is we did not notice. Blessings on him for making the attempt.

Please read the whole thing. It is one of the finest essays on Benedict I have read.

May God bless Pope Benedict XVI in his retirement, as He has blessed us with his papacy.  


  1. There's no Biblical basis for the Papacy.

    In Matt.16:18, Jesus says: "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

    While Jesus gives Simon the new name Peter (petros, masculine), he refers to the "rock" upon which he will build his church as petra (feminine).

    Jesus is not referring to Peter when talking about "this rock", but is referring to Peter's confession of faith (the word in Greek is feminine) in the preceding verses.

    Jesus thus declares not the primacy of Peter, but that his church will be built upon the foundation of a confession of faith of Jesus as the Christ.

    1. So Jesus, the itinerant carpenter/rabbi from Nazareth, was speaking in greek to his uneducated fisherfolk followers? Not believable. He was most certainly speaking in Aramaic in which there are no masculine stones and feminine stones but only stones. So your petra/petros gambit is without merit.

  2. So, to summarize Benny's papacy:

    Achievements - not many, if any.

    Reason for abdication - too old and frail to deal with the sex and money scandal within the Vatican. Let alone the clergy sex abuse.

    Future legacy - occupied the period between Pope John Paul II and whoever is his successor. Probably won't be remembered in a few decades.

    So he's written a few books? Not exactly something that's in the job description.

    I do predict that he'll be made a saint soon after he dies though. According to the church's exorcist, his mere presence was enough to cause two allegedly demonically possessed men to have hysterical fits and subsequent casting out of demons. Two miracles (or at least events as good as other claimed miracles) in one go!

    1. "So he's written a few books? Not exactly something that's in the job description."

      Very much included in the job description Bach. How else would the head of a worldwide communion teach his people?

    2. Preaching is usually done in person. How would you go about instructing over a billion people? Television? He does (did) that but not everyone watches TV. Quite a few of us read.

    3. @bach:

      So you think that Benedict's deep erudition, his mastery of theology and his authorship of a number of profound Christian books is a net negative for a Pope?

      You're just making up stuff as you go along.

    4. Michael,

      So what has he achieved? List them. He will be forgotten in a few years as being just a temporary occupant of the papacy.

      Pope PIus XII, on the other hand, will be remembered for centuries to come. For one thing, and I give him credit for this, he was one of the first, if not first, public figure to condemn the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  3. I am also wondering what Benny has achieved. If he is so humble, why did he reinstate that people kneel before him? Why did he dress up in more and more extravagant outfits? That doesn't sound like a humble person at all.

    But maybe miracles do happen. My wife was supposed to be infertile after the birth of our first child, but she is pregnant again. Praise Darwin!

  4. Join him Egnor, and together you can rule the Galaxy as father and son.


  5. What I like about the Pope is that he wants to revive the Latin language:
    That would be interesting. Way to go though!

    1. They should switch to Klingon. That will sure win more converts than Latin.


  6. Hi Michael,

    On June 1st, 2011, this message was communicated to Maria Divine Mercy: "My beloved Vicar’s days are now numbered. He will have left The Vatican, before The Warning takes place."

    That's a pretty long lead time on an event which pretty much took the rest of the world by complete surprise.

    Although I admit that I occasionally dip into the "Catholic Prophecy" community from time to time to find out what's up -- but its been at least a year since the last time I checked in -- I usually don't stay long because there are way too many conflicting messages and nothing can compare with the surety of being united to Mother Church.

    However, this seems different. And important. You are my Go-To guy for sane and rational commentary on current events. So I am sharing this with you. I don't know that this is something that you would want to blog about, but you might want to check it out. I've *just* learned about this and am still digesting it. But have a gander.

    June 1st, 2011: "My beloved Vicar’s days are now numbered. He will have left The Vatican, before The Warning takes place. ... This is a very important Mission unlike anything I have sent to mankind, since the early prophets."

    February 11th, 2012: "My poor Holy Vicar, Pope Benedict XVI, will be ousted from the Holy See in Rome."

    Home page here: