Who is This New Holy Father?
by Monsignor Charles M. Mangan
©Catholic Online 2005
The joyful, long-awaited announcement, “Habemus Papam,” has resounded far and wide. Pope Benedict XVI is our new Pontiff. For this tremendous gift from Heaven, we are profoundly thankful.
The poignant death of our beloved Pope John Paul II stirred us to our very depths. We greatly miss this outstanding disciple of Christ who did so much for us. May he do even more for us from Paradise.
But our gracious God has provided—as always. Pope Benedict XVI now leads us to the unending Kingdom of God. Viva il Papa!
Many of you already know something of the biographical details concerning the person once known as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Therefore, my happy mission is to offer a few personal impressions about the present Bishop of Rome.
1. A devout man. It is well-known that our Holy Father is prayerful and pious. He loves the Sacred Liturgy of the Church, esteeming very much the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Pontiff also recognizes the valuable of daily communication with God. He has written about the importance of genuine veneration of the Mother of Christ.
In an age that too often misunderstands the role of solitude and contemplation, the Holy Father’s sterling example offers a necessary and urgent corrective. He comprehends well that prayer and devotion are obligatory, not optional, if we wish to be the authentic followers of Jesus the God-Man as our celestial Father intends.
2. An insightful man. The astounding intellectual capacity of Pope Benedict has been appreciated by Catholics and non-Catholics alike for several decades. A professional theologian by training, the Pontiff, before his Election as the Successor of Saint Peter, penned scores of books and articles on a vast array of theological topics. His written and verbal expression of the Truths of the Faith is outstanding and sorely needed today.
Such keen reflection by the Holy Father on the everlasting mysteries is an inspiration to us. We realize that we, too, are to meditate often on what God has revealed. By doing so, we learn our real identity and make progress on the road to becoming ever more the persons God desires.
3. An approachable man. Those who know him attest that the Holy Father, much like his Predecessor Pope John Paul II, listens very carefully to those whom he encounters. He takes time to hear the thoughts of others, even when they disagree with his own.
Sadly, some in the mass media, particularly in the West, have portrayed the Sovereign Pontiff as a cruel ogre bent on destroying the lives of so many innocent persons. Nothing could be further from reality. The gentle disposition of the Vicar of Christ mirrors the compassion and patience of the Good Shepherd Himself.
4. A decisive man. As the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger regularly confronted very difficult, complex problems whose ramifications were felt in distant places. He could have remained silent, preferring to keep quite about these crucial matters, thereby allowing a false tranquility to take root. But he refused this temptation. Instead, he battled fiercely against the pernicious errors of our day.
The Holy Father is willing and ready to make decisions. He knows that he must if he is to be a faithful and valiant Bishop of Rome who walks not only in the footsteps of Saint Peter and but also of Jesus Christ—the Divine Founder of the Church. The Pontiff looks to the Holy Spirit for enlightenment and seeks to be faithful in his Petrine Ministry.
Suffice it to say that Pope Benedict XVI, who, as he walked out onto the balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica after his Election to and Acceptance of the Papacy, called himself “a humble worker in the Vineyard of the Lord,” is a treasure for Catholics and all peoples of good will. The Lord has given him to us for our spiritual welfare. Let us heed his words and obey his precepts.
I gladly close my perspective with this famous Prayer for our newly elected Pope Benedict XVI:
“Let us pray for our Pontiff Benedict. May the Lord preserve him, give him a long life, make him blessed upon the earth, and not hand him over to the power of his enemies.”
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Pope Benedict XVI
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