Skip to content

Benedict's gifts and 'gaffes'

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

The problem: There's not that much difference between those gifts and those gaffes. Consider:

A gift: Pope Benedict's theme of friendship with Jesus.

In his homily before the papal conclave, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger introduced a theme that he would return to again after becoming Pope Benedict XVI.

He called Catholics to "friendship with Jesus," invoking the Roman phrase that identified friends as those with the same likes and same dislikes.

In his inaugural Mass as pope, the holy father returned to the same theme, saying, "If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation."

He expanded on that theme in many ways afterward - in his first encyclical, 2006's Deus Cartias Est (God Is Love) and in his book Jesus of Nazareth, which he wrote, he said, "to help foster the growth of a living relationship" with Jesus Christ.

A so-called gaffe: In his remarks to the bishops of Latin America meeting in Aparecida, Brazil, Pope Benedict said, "The utopia of going back to breathe life into the pre-Columbian religions, separating them from Christ and from the universal church, would not be a step forward. Indeed, it would be a step back. In reality, it would be a retreat towards a stage in history anchored in the past."

Later, the holy father was quick to acknowledge the injustices that took place during the colonization of Latin America.

But his original remark was of a piece with the important theme of his pontificate: Friendship with Jesus isn't an imposition on a life that would have been freer without it - it is a liberation for those who would be diminished without it. Everyone is bettered by that friendship - Indians included.

A gift: Pope Benedict's insistence that God is love.

Hand in hand with his concept of friendship with Jesus is Pope Benedict's emphasis on God as love. In his first encyclical, he had startling things to say. He calls God's love for his people not just agape love but eros. In other words, he says God loves us with an almost romantic longing.

The holy father even writes: "God's passionate love for his people - for humanity - is at the same time a forgiving love. It is so great that it turns God against himself, his love against his justice."

He has returned to the theme again and again in homilies. In March 2006, he said: "God loves us in a way that we might call 'obstinate' and enfolds us in his inexhaustible tenderness."

A so-called gaffe: On Sept. 12, 2006, the holy father gave a lecture about faith and reason - and the need to reject violence - at the University of Regensburg, Germany. In it, he quoted a 14th century emperor's words about the incompatibility of faith and violence. But he also quoted the emperor's harsh words about Muhammad, the founder of Islam - calling them "astonishingly brusque."

Some Muslims reacted, ironically, with violence - but Pope Benedict was doing nothing more in his Regensburg address than expressing in concrete terms the consequences of the truth that God is love - renouncing violence in the name of God.

A gift: Benedict's emphasis on the Eucharist.

All of these lessons are summed up in another constant theme of the Pope: The Eucharist. In his first message after becoming Pope, Benedict said: "I ask everyone in the coming months to intensify love and devotion for Jesus in the Eucharist," he said, "and to express courageously and clearly faith in the real presence of the Lord, especially by the solemnity and the correctness of the celebrations."

It's another theme he returned to several times, most importantly in the recent post-synodal apostolic exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis" ("The Sacrament of Charity").

Face Mask with Cross BOGO 50% OFF

A so-called gaffe: In a Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith document, the Vatican reiterated the fact that only those churches that retain the real presence of Christ are authentic.

The document was simply a reiteration of the key truth that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. The Vatican is saying that churches are Christians gathered with Christ - not gatherings of those who reject the Eucharist.

Pope Benedict's pontificate hasn't been a series of gifts and gaffes at all, but a consistent application of key themes of the Christian life.


National Catholic Register ,
- ,



Shop Catholic - Buy One Get One 50% OFF

Mix and match any of these bestselling products and enjoy 50% off the second item!

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,717

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Act of Contrition PDF

Free Catholic Educational PDF Downloads and Resources

PDF educational resources for Students, Parents, and Teachers and it’s 100% FREE. How to Pray the Rosary, Hail Mary, Our Father, Saints, Prayers, Coloring Books, Novenas, Espanol and more. All FREE to download and faithful to the Magisterium. Download Now >

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

FREE Catholic Classes Pick a class, you can learn anything

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.