Benedict XVI's First Year
On April 27, 2006, Pope Benedict used his Wednesday general audience as an opportunity to reflect on the first anniversary of his pontificate:
How quickly time passes! A year has already elapsed since the cardinals gathered in conclave and, in a way I found absolutely unexpected and surprising, desired to choose my poor self to succeed the late and beloved Servant of God, the great Pope John Paul II. I remember with emotion my first impact with the faithful gathered in this same square, from the central loggia of the basilica, immediately after my election.Courtesy of the Vatican, you can watch video of Pope John Paul II's funeral, the Conclave, and the election of Pope Benedict XVI. . . . Ratzenfreude, anyone?
That meeting is still impressed upon my mind and heart. It was followed by many others that have given me an opportunity to experience the deep truth of my words at the solemn concelebration with which I formally began to exercise my Petrine ministry: "I too can say with renewed conviction: I am not alone. I do not have to carry alone what in truth I could never carry alone" (L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, April 27, 2005, p. 2).
And I feel more and more that alone I could not carry out this task, this mission. But I also feel that you are carrying it with me: Thus, I am in a great communion and together we can go ahead with the Lord's mission. The heavenly protection of God and of the saints is an irreplaceable support to me and I am comforted by your closeness, dear friends, who do not let me do without the gift of your indulgence and your love. I offer very warm thanks to all those who in various ways support me from close at hand or follow me from afar in spirit with their affection and their prayers. I ask each one to continue to support me, praying to God to grant that I may be a gentle and firm Pastor of his Church. . . .
Catholic bloggers, pundits and the world continue to assess the one-year anniversary of Benedict XVI's pontificate and his election on April 19, 2005.
In our April 2006 Benedict Roundup, we took a look at some rather mediocre (hence, disappointing) reviews by the likes of Stephen Crittenden, John Cornwell and Hans Kung -- with USA Today's Eric Lyman distinguishing himself by being able to mention JPII and B16 in the same paragraph without succumbing to the urge to lambast John Paul II's teaching on sexuality. This time around we'll see what some of our Catholic pundits and members of St. Blog's Parish have to say.
- Is B16 nasty enough?, by Michael Liccione (Sacramentum Vitae April 20, 2006):
The Pope appears unlikely to clean house by showing the door to unruly family members. As I've often suggested before, demographics are at least as likely to winnow the chaff as juridical measures and would be far less costly. Instead, Benedict proposes the true, the good, and the beautiful; he calls the false, the evil, and the ugly by their right names; and he invites all, by example as well as word, to conversion of heart. Unlike some of my fellow conservative Catholics, I've come to believe that, for the moment at least, that's about as nasty as he needs to be.
- One year later, by Amy Welborn (Open Book April 19, 2006):
That day a year ago is impossible to forget. It was thrilling and mystifying. Why were we all so fascinated, even the secular media? I was watching one of the nets and an anchor said, "I'm getting chills" - it's sobering, really, to think about it - that the election of a Pope could produce so much interest in what we thought was such a cynical world. . . .Great recollections of that amazing day, together with some great memories from her readers.
- Remarking on the tendency of many pundits to note that the Pope turned out to be not what they had expected -- which is to say, a far cry from his former incarnation as "God's Rottweiler," Guy Selvester (Shouts in the Piazza) wonders "Who is different?"
- " Pope and Abbot", by Christopher Ruddy. America Vol. 194 No. 19. May 29, 2006:
. . . If his pontificate remains embryonic, a clear portrait of the man has begun to emerge: Pope Benedict the abbot. If John Paul II was above all a witness, carrying the truth about Christ and humanity to all peoples and places, I suggest that Benedict can be summed up as an abbot concerned with leading his community to a deeper encounter with God through prayer and service. Where John Paul was a “sender,” concerned primarily with the church’s mission, Benedict is a “gatherer,” concerned primarily with its communion.
- Pope Benedict made it into Time Magazine's "100 People Who Shape Our World", with contributions by Jeff Israely (The Pope's First Year: How He Simplified His Role) and Peggy Noonan (Pope Benedict XVI: The New Pontiff Finds His Voice):
This is God's Rottweiler? John Paul's enforcer? The man who bluntly told the Cardinals last year that they must clean the stables of the "filth" that had entered the church? According to those who have followed the work and life of Joseph Ratzinger—now Pope Benedict—this is the real him: the teacher, the thinker, the ponderer of deepest meanings.See also Time's impressive Photo Essay: The Pope's First Year.
- Benedict XVI, One Year Later: What’s New, by Sandro Magister. L'Espresso April 18, 2006:
Among the novelties he has introduced during his first year as pope – which comes to completion this Easter week – there is one that Joseph Ratzinger has a special fondness for. So much so that has repeated it several times.Magister posts the text of five answers to the five questions posed to him by the young people in St. Peter’s Square on April 6, and links to other "spontaneous Q&A sessions" -- with priests of the diocese of Rome, on March 3, 2006; children who had received first communion, in St. Peter’s Square on October 5, 2005; and priests of the diocese of Aosta, July 25, 2005.
It is the practice of public discussions in question and answer format. Benedict XVI arrives and greets those present, but doesn’t speak from a prepared text. He simply fields questions. And he responds to each of them, spontaneously. . . .
- Zenit News Service has published numerous interviews with various members of the clergy and the press, on their impressions of the Pope's first year, including journalist Marco Tosatti of the Italian newspaper La Stampa, on "Benedict XVI's Analytical-Rational Style" April 24, 2006; Salesian Sister Marcellina Farina of the Educational Sciences Auxilium on "Benedict XVI and the Dignity of Women" (April 25, 2006) and Bishop Luigi Negri on "Benedict XVI's Greatest Strength" (May 7, 2006).
- Habemus Papam! - a nice photo presentation from Argent by the Tiber.
- Pope Benedict XVI's Rookie Year?, by Mark Brumley (Insight Scoop ) -- a convenient roundup of "the deluge of articles" from the mainstream media.
- Assessing the first year of Pope Benedict XVI - ReligionLink.org provides a helpful "cheat sheet" for pundits covering the issue, with an overview of the major events and issues in B16's first year, a list of the books on Benedict XVI published during his first year, and a contact list of Catholic pundits and talking heads.
- Finally, an appraisal of Benedict's First Twelve Months by Lee Hudson Teslik of the Council on Foreign Relations turns out to be (unintentionally) amusing/disturbing, assessing Benedict's pontificate with chief attention given to the Church's stance on contraception and condom-use in Africa.
In Other News . . .
- By way of the Houston Catholic Worker, May-June 2006 issue comes Benedict's Deus Caritas Est: The Way of Love in the Church's Mission to the World, by David Schindler, Dean and Gagnon Professor of Fundamental Theology, Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family (Catholic University of America).
- From the March 2006 issue of 30 Giorni [30 Days], Tradition and freedom: the lectures of the young Joseph, by Gianni Valente, on "the first years of Professor Ratzinger’s teaching in Bonn and Münster, as remembered by his students":
In his autobiography Ratzinger depicts the first months of teaching in Bonn as "a feast of first love". All his students from that time well remember the undergraduate grapevine that made them crowd to the lessons of the enfant prodige theologian. The scholar of Judaism Peter Kuhn, who was to become assistant lecturer under Professor Ratzinger in the years of teaching at Tubingen, says:"I was then a twenty-year-old Lutheran. I was attending the Evangelical Theological Faculty, after following the lessons of Karl Barth in Basle. I knew the Bavarian Vinzenz Pfnür, who had followed Ratzinger straight from Freising. He told me: listen, we have an interesting professor, he’s worth the trouble of listening to, even if you are a Protestant. At the first seminar, I thought immediately: this man is really not like the other Catholic teachers I know."
In his manuscript Horst Ferdinand goes on:"The lectures were prepared down to the millimeter. He gave them by paraphrasing the text that he’d prepared with formulations that at times seemed to fit together like a mosaic, with a wealth of images that reminded me of Romano Guardini. In some lectures, as in the pauses in a concert, you could have heard a pin drop"
The Redemptorist Viktor Hahn, who was the first student to “doctor” himself with Ratzinger, adds:"The room was always packed, the students adored him. He had a beautiful and simple language. The language of a believer".What was it that so gripped the students in those lessons given out in a soft, concentrated tone, without theatrical gestures? It’s clear that what the young professor had to say was not of his making. That he was not the protagonist. "I have never sought," Ratzinger himself explains in the book-interview The Salt of the Earth, "to create a system of my own, my own particular theology. If one really wants to speak of specificity, it’s a matter simply of the fact that I set myself to think together with the faith of the Church, and that means thinking above all with the great thinkers of the faith."
- The March 2006 issue of the Communion & Liberation periodical Traces includes a special section on Deus Caritas Est, reprinting the encyclical in full along with several supplements: "The Splendor of Charity", commentary on the second part of the encyclical by Massimo Camisasca (see also his commentary on part I: "The Humanity of Faith"); "Gratuitousness in action", a collection of comments from C&L members inspired by the encyclical; From Evangelization to Education, by Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete. (Thanks to Fred of Deep Furrows).
- Vocation in the mystery of the Church, May 7, 2006. A Penitent Blogger posts the Message of the Holy Father for the 43rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, accompanied by some appropriate and moving images.
- Pope Benedict XVI, Mozart and the Quest of Beauty, AD2000 Vol 19 No 3 (April 2006). "His music is by no means just entertainment; it contains the whole tragedy of human existence." Mark Freer, organist and choirmaster for the Latin Mass at Holy Name Church in Adelaide, Australia, discusses the classical composer held in mutual esteem by Benedict XVI, Hans Urs von Balthasar and Benedict's brother Georg.
This past April, a "visibly happy" Pope had the opportunity to enjoy a Saturday evening concert featuring music by his favorite composer, courtesy of the mayor of Rome. The program featured arias from Le nozze di Figaro and Die Entfuehrung aus dem Serail, after which the Pope spoke briefly on the subject. Kath.net reported the story, and Closed Cafeteria's Gerald Augustinus provides a translation.
- Benedict XVI and Islam, by Samir Khalil Samir, SJ. AsiaNews.it April 26, 2006:
While the Pope is asking Islam for dialogue based on culture, human rights, the refusal of violence, he is asking the West, at the same time, to go back to a vision of human nature and rationality in which the religious dimension is not excluded. In this way – and perhaps only in this way – a clash of civilizations can be avoided, transforming it instead into a dialogue between civilizations.
- "Everyone needs love. Everyone desires love. But not everyone understands love. In fact, love is probably the most misunderstood subject in history. . . ." Thanks to Ignatius Press, this problem can be remedied by the publication of a Deluxe Hardcover Collectors' Edition of Deus Caritas Est.
Why a deluxe HARDCOVER edition of the encyclical? -- American Papist has the answer.
- German Pope having an impact on his native land Catholic World News. April 27, 2006. Passauer Neue Presse interviewed German journalist Peter Seewald (best known for his book-length interviews with the Pope, Salt of the Earth and God and the World). The article was published on Kath.net and CWNews provides a translation for those of us ignorant of our Holy Father's native language. =)
Seewald shares his thoughts on Benedict XVI's teaching style:
Ratzinger has found a quite distinctive, very subtle style. Reserved, calm, almost shy, and yet he very firmly goes his own way. There is an air of meekness that you recognize from the Gospels. The new Pope makes himself little-- and gives the impression of being that much greater, and as a result his office is all the more accessible. In a certain way Benedict is a born teacher, and what he has started with his new school of faith may be the greatest catechesis since the time of the apostles.and goes on to comment on the Pope's effect on Germany, including the Protestant reaction. See also: Germany Sees Benedict XVI Differently Now Zenit News, May 4, 2006. (On a humorous note, Gerald Augustinus posts some photos of Pope Benedict sweets, made in Marktl am Inn, his birthplace).
- Canonization and the emerging Benedict XVI, by Dr. Edward Peters. In The Light of the Law April 27, 2006:
Benedict XVI's letter to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints seems to me to be one of the most important things he's done to date. It certainly shows the clearest difference between him and John Paul II to emerge so far. Benedict XVI could have communicated his concerns about the beatification and canonization process in a simple telephone call; instead he wrote a short treatise on the topic. The world was meant to take notice. . . .
- This year marks the 450th anniversary of the death of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order, and the 500th anniversary of the births of his closest companions, St. Francis Xavier and Blessed Peter Faber. On April 22nd, 2006 -- "the feast of Mary, Mother of the Society, marking the day in 1541 when the three saints and the other original members of the Jesuits took their solemn vows in Rome" -- members of "The Company of Jesus" gathered in St. Peter's Basilica to commemorate the historical event. [Source: Catholic News Service April 19, 2006]. Mark Mossas, SJ (You Duped Me, Lord) posts the text of Benedict's address to the Jesuits following the Mass.
- Bilder : Bildergalerie Pontifikalamt 1999 in Weimar mit Kard. Ratzinger (heute Papst Benedikt XVI.) Participation of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger at a Tridentine Mass in Weimar. 1999.
And on a Lighter Note . . .
- Dancing IPope Commercial. In the words of American Papist: "It had to happen."
- Vatican official warns against people posing as pope's organist, by Cindy Wooden. Catholic News Service. May 19, 2006. Consider yourself warned.