Benedict XVI and WYD: pastoral v. intellectual – a look back

When big events in a pontificate have come and gone, it is good to return after a time and do a little analysis.  To that end there is an interesting article in the Muswellbrook Chronicle.

My emphases and comments.

 

From a theologian to Pope of the people [I have a bit of a problem with this dichotomy, but we'll leave that for now.]
21/07/2008 12:00:01 AM

World Youth Day under Sydney’s limpid blue skies has opened a new chapter in the story of Pope Benedict XVI, one which seasoned Vatican observers describe as a turning point in his papacy.  [Hmm... well see what they have to say about this.]

The shy professor of theology turned cardinal, chief inquisitor [they just can't resist, can they] and keeper of the Catholic faith has shown the first glimpse of a mass communicator in the making [despite the fact of having published a couple dozen books and having been a teacher, priest and diocesan bishop.  Seriously, publishing and going in front of large crowds, the size a POPE gets, are very different.] – one whose DNA may not be infused with the star power of John Paul II but who has now, even if reluctantly, embraced the need to engage directly with his 1.2 billion global followers.  [It is interesting that so many people affirm that lots of people went to see John Paul II, but they go to hear Pope Benedict.]

"It is in Sydney that this Pope has truly learnt his job," said Andreas Englisch yesterday. Englisch, a German author, journalist and member of the Vatican press corps since 1986, has written seven books, including two on Pope John Paul II and one on Benedict XVI.  [I wonder.  It seems to me that his trip to the USA may have done that, to a certain extent.  Remember that incredible address he gave to young people at Dunwoody.]

"Ratzinger is a theologian. He knows his church but he knew it through books, through his writing, from his study but not from the people. In Australia, even more than in the United States, he has learnt the church from his people … they do not want to be kept at arm’s length.  [Perhaps that lesson was learned in the USA and then put into practice in Sydney.  Also, I don't buy the premise that the Pope didn't know the Church "from the people".  We mustn't forget that the Pope was a parish priest, then a teacher, a university professor, then a diocesan bishop.  Sounds like John Paul II.  But no one says JPII didn't know the Church "from the people".  I think there is a dichotomy at work here, which we see raise its ugly head all too often when discussing the Church these days.]

"In Cologne in 2006, 1.5 mill-ion people lined the Rhine to see him. He spoke only to the young people on the boat with him … there was no effort to wave, to smile, to acknowledge all those that came out to see him … There was much criticism of him, even from his bishops. Here in Sydney it has been different, completely different."  [And the crowd about a third of the size as that of Cologne?]

Pope Benedict, born and bred in the cold of Bavaria, [?!?] seems to have thawed in Australia.

When he faced the first phalanx of television cameras and microphones on board the flight to Sydney from Rome seven days ago he looked transfixed, hesitant in demeanour and rusty in English, the language of his soon-to-be hosts in Australia.  [Okay... you get up in front of a "phalanx" of journalists, knowing you are going to have questions is various languages and see what you look like.  And, by the way, how did John Paul II handle that?  Oh right... he didn't.  He didn't do what Pope Benedict has done from the beginning of his pontificate: wherever he goes he holds conferences and fields questions and answers them extemporaneously.]

"He was faced by a battery of cameras and lights … he is not at his best in a crowd, he looked like a deer caught in a spotlight," another veteran Vatican specialist on board the flight said.

"But just a few days later, if you talked to those 12 kids who had lunch with him at St Mary’s, you would not know it was the same man," she said.  [For pity's sake... of course.  Again, he spent a lot of his life teaching young people rather than hanging out in front of cameras with journalists.]

"He laughed, he relaxed, he played with the stress ball that one of the American kids gave him. Theatrics go against his nature, but he has learnt here to play his audience [Or maybe it was.... genuine?] … even to punch his applause lines, to listen, to time delivery with them." [Again, they assume he didn't know what a joke was before?  I can tell you from my own dealings with him years back that he always had a wonderful sense of humor and could kid around.]

In the past seven days the Pope, a man of undisputed fierce intellect and steadfast theological position, has gradually allowed a different part of his personality to emerge. At last he has provided a glimpse of the man behind the mitre[Ah... finally.]

At Government House, during his first official outing after resting at Kenthurst, the Pope was led through a review of the troops – an Australian protocol for a visiting head of state but one that departed entirely with papal tradition. It was clear from the Pope’s demeanour that he was unsure of what was expected of him – even mildly embarrassed – as the navy, army and air force military bands waited at attention and he was led past each one.

"It is simply not a papal thing to do … I think it has only ever happened once or twice, usually in small African nations," said a senior Vatican reporter and veteran of 19 papal trips.

"He is never made to walk past like that … but it was obviously local tradition, and so he stopped each time, he waved; he obviously seemed to want to make a human connection."  [Of course.]

According to his spokesman, the Jesuit priest Padre Federico Lombardi, the previous pope, John Paul II, had come from a pastoral tradition. [Or maybe they are just different men?] "All of us see the difference in their personalities, the difference in their approach to people. You only need to watch them to see that difference. 

"I think that for John Paul II this [a World Youth Day event] was a very spontaneous thing. He also had a personal past in pastoral work with youth. He used to take canoe trips, nature walks in forests with them. His gestures, his ripostes to curious questions [from youth] were all spontaneous.

"Pope Benedict XVI was a university professor. You can see that too in the way he imparts his speeches, his relationships, the way he expresses himself and so on … he has a rapport with the young but is more shaped by his students. I think though that he has shown a great willingness to live this new pastoral experience, which he inherited from his predecessor but which he has now infused with his own characteristics, of simplicity, of humility and availability to all."  [This is good.]

Padre Lombardi said what was most visible in Sydney was the Pope’s direct participation with young people and that he allowed himself to become involved.

The changes observed in the Pope during his Australian trip are particularly significant as no cardinal of the Roman curia had ever enjoyed the celebrity status – but as an intellectual not a populist – enjoyed by Joseph Ratzinger in Europe when he was cardinal.

According to John Allen, the Pope’s unauthorised biographer, the then Cardinal Ratzinger’s fame "transcended the borders of church life; [making him] a bona fide public figure with a cultural profile similar to [the conservative commentator and writer] William F. Buckley jnr’s in the United States."  [Fair enough.]

In his biography, which the Vatican did not receive warmly as it meticulously and critically analyses Joseph Ratzinger’s dramatic evolution from early libertarian theologian to arch-conservative, Allen points out that in German newspaper polls at the time he was cardinal, Ratzinger came in the top 30 of German’s most important and powerful nationals. He was placed ahead of the then head of the German central bank and even the tennis player Steffi Graf.

Allen’s final analysis rejects critics who portray the Pope as a man driven only by fear – of losing power, of women, of sex, of modernity. He argues that the very few people who know the man, and even those who disagree with his theological positions, describe him differently: "… He is a refined man with a lively sense of humour, [indeed yes] not someone working out his personal pathologies through the power of his office," [like progressivists and feminists... but I digress] he writes. When asked once, on Bavarian television, what he was afraid of, Allen writes that his quick-witted response was "I’m afraid only of the dentist".  [Sounds like a pretty good one-liner to me, and that was even before he learned in Sydney how to make jokes.]

On Sydney Harbour, during a welcome usually afforded rock stars, the Pope surprised many when he moved out of the papal entourage and ensconced himself at the front of the boat, looking as excited as the teenagers who flocked around him.

Similarly, his triumphant tournee around the racecourse at Randwick yesterday was markedly populist and warm. His security men turned a blind eye to the many babies and toddlers thrust through the open window for the Pope to kiss.  [Perhaps another things learned in the USA where the security detail was truly stiffling, I understand.]

The only real criticism of the week revolved around the complexity of his homily at the Saturday night vigil on the St Augustine’s theology of the Holy Spirit. [Here again is that ugly dichotomy.]

Some youngsters found the teachings impenetrable, and even Padre Lombardi, in a flash of great humour, admitted that he and others who had read the homily found it difficult "on first impression". [Really?]

But that, he said, was a good measure of this Pope. "It was his choice, to choose issues that invite reflection, that require work to understand, that may need you to come back and return to them to seek clarity. There are other things that he might have said that might glean greater applause … but they would not have stimulated thought."   [The best paragraph of the whole article.  Lombardi nailed it.  Well done.]

 

Here is my problem.

Often on this blog I have made the observation that there is prevalent a dichotomy between "pastoral" and "intellectual".  If you are one, you can’t be the other.

And in this dichotomy, the "pastoral" is nearly always exalted at superior, in such a way that to be "pastoral" often winds up fostering an anti-intellectual condescension.

This is a common trait in many clerics, I’m afraid.

I see Pope Benedict breaking down this dichotomy, which is causing some people to scratch their heads in confusion.

 

 

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37 Responses to Benedict XVI and WYD: pastoral v. intellectual – a look back

  1. TomG says:

    You know, with the exception of Fr. Lombardi and the always-fair Mr. Allen, the writer and others quoted in this piece are pretty darn stupid. Reminds me of most U.S. “journalists” when they write about the military and defense. Without a clue.

  2. JM says:

    “embraced the need to engage directly with his 1.2 billion global followers.”

    I am not a follower of the pope since he isn’t founder of his own religion, god, etc. I am a follower of Christ, who gave the pope primacy and authority over Christians on earth. He is our shepherd as Christ told him to: “Feed My lambs…”

  3. People often make the mistake of thinking that there is only one way to engage with youth. So if you’re not sentimental, informal and easy-going, youth can’t relate. Or if you aren’t strumming a guitar on a canoe trip, youth aren’t interested. And we are talking about university-aged youth, 16-24, not young children. That’s the age when you need to stop giving them milk and force them to chew on whole foods.

  4. megotoaz@gmail.com says:

    Often on this blog I have made the observation that there is prevalent a dichotomy between “pastoral” and “intellectual”. If you are one, you can’t be the other. And in this dichotomy, the “pastoral” is nearly always exalted at superior, in such a way that to be “pastoral” often winds up fostering an anti-intellectual condescension.

    Could that possibly be as a result of the most recent — and merely pastoral — Church Council and the “reforms” that have issued from it?

  5. TNCath says:

    Father Lombardi wrote: “It was his choice, to choose issues that invite reflection, that require work to understand, that may need you to come back and return to them to seek clarity. There are other things that he might have said that might glean greater applause … but they would not have stimulated thought.”

    Unfortunately, in this age of the sound byte for headline news, running news headlines at the bottom of the TV screen, and, alas, the Internet, I find that the average person (especially the youth) have neither the desire nor the attention spans to go back, re-read with the Pope has said, and reflect on it.

    Additionally, this pastoral vs. intellectual conflict isn’t just with the papacy. Even in the local Church, it is often the gregarious, “hail fellow well met” pastor, “Father Wonderful” that lets parishioners get away with “liturgical murder” and other unorthodox practices in their parishes. “Father Wonderful” is known for being “so pastoral,” which is nothing more than a code word for eschewing the intellectual– misguided charity that it is better think with one’s heart than one’s head.

  6. TNCath says:

    Clavem Abyssi wrote: “People often make the mistake of thinking that there is only one way to engage with youth. So if you’re not sentimental, informal and easy-going, youth can’t relate. Or if you aren’t strumming a guitar on a canoe trip, youth aren’t interested. And we are talking about university-aged youth, 16-24, not young children. That’s the age when you need to stop giving them milk and force them to chew on whole foods.”

    Yes, and ironically, these “people” who are still strumming guitars and sitting on pillows are folks in their 50′s who are still caught up in that post Vatican II 1960′s and 1970′s mentality. In my previous post I said that “I find that the average person (especially the youth) have neither the desire nor the attention spans to go back, re-read with the Pope has said, and reflect on it.” This is a direct result of the dumbing down of our culture and educational system, where we have watered down anything complex into a painless, easy to understand sound byte, summary, or “Cliff’s Notes”

  7. Mary Jane says:

    I never understand this dichotomy. Why does “pastoral” mean “dumb and sentimental”? Our Lord Himself is certainly the pastoral model and he was neither of the foregoing.

    Further, people do respond positively when their intelligence is respected and encouraged.

  8. sacredosinaeternum says:

    I completely agree with you, Fr. Z, and equally dislike, or rather, despise, the insidious dichotomies between “pastoral” and “intellectual” or for the priest, between “pastoral” and “cultic”. Look at the greatest saints who were priests and popes, and you will find nothing of the sort. This article and many others greatly show the poverty of understanding among journalists and the bad fruit produced by liberals and heretics in the last 30 years. Thanks be to God that in His mercy, the tide is turning- thanks to the fruit of Pope Benedict and his many priests who do not posses these insidious dichotomies!

  9. Austin says:

    I been told by people from Munich that the Pope was extremely popular when
    Archbishop there, and greeted in the street by the people with warm
    affection. I think this sequestered scholar image is overdone.

  10. Veritas says:

    But if you’re “conservative” or “traditional” then they say (by definition) you can’t be an “intellectual.” But then, there’s a distinction between “conservative/traditional” and “pastoral.”

    So what is it?

  11. mbd says:

    I am sceptical of the portrait painted in this article and elsewhere of Cardinal Ratzinger as having been distant, ill-at-ease and aloof and ‘unpastoral’ with crowds and assemblies of people before a sudden transformation of his personality as Pope. There are a number of videos and still photos on the web of him during his several years as Archbishop of Vienna where he seemed quite warm, ‘pastoral’ and fully at ease encountering and greeting people whether walking about the city informally or in such formal situations as processions, etc. It is clear that he did not begin kissing babies just recently, or warmly greeting and speaking with young people and children. In fact, in what I’ve viewed, I have been impressed with how much he exuded the same persona thirty years ago as he did more recently in Sydney. This type of reporting seems to be an effort to justify the portrait of the ‘old’ Ratzinger that they pushed on their readership and which is now increasingly disproven for all to see.

  12. Raymundus says:

    All I’ll say is that the priests in my diocese whom we refer to as “the old war horses” (or men everyone looks up to) are typically ones who had the rarely-seen capability of combining intellectual prowess with pastoral acuity.

    I pray that I be such a pastor in the future.

  13. Mark says:

    “It is in Sydney that this Pope has truly learnt his job,”

    …yes, I guess his job is to play the crowd and make us feel good. Even though one of his homilies had the unfortunate effect of making us think, it seems he is finally learning his job, which happens to be the same as religion nowadays. (read sarcasm)

  14. pdt says:

    The pope, through his complex homily, has given a great opportunity to Catholic educators. Take a day or two out of the regular class schedule and allow your teens and tweens to discuss what the Pope has said. Stretch the kids’ minds a bit and be astonished at how far they will stretch yours in return. What a wonderful gift from Pope Benedict. How said that so few will realize it.

  15. bryan says:

    I’m thinking that we can’t help but reflect on this by breaking down the false
    American tendency (and I’m acknowledging the world-wide readership here…but
    please bear with me, since I’m looking at this through an admitted US-tinted
    lens) to equate intellectual prowess with a certain ‘distance’ in our relationship
    skills, perhaps because many of the so-called intellectuals seem to act as if the
    rabble is not worthy of their attention.

    To me, this article on its face is a somewhat ‘damning with faint praise’ of our
    Holy Father. So be it. It’s a ‘well, this is how *I* think he should act” etc
    scribbling act. Benedict could have walked down the center of the river without
    getting his feet wet, and someone would have complained that the shoe polish was
    leaving behind molecules of toxic substances.

    I’m supposing that Papa Benedict is a man who, viscerally knows who he is as a person
    and at the same time understands the terrible burden he accepted as the Vicar of
    Christ on earth. He has not the exuberance of John Paul II of grateful memory, yet,
    in his own humble way, is quietly, gently, and with great spirituality LEADING his
    flock, as Our Lord directed his first apostles to do. I saw John Paul II in person
    many times (on his first visit here, as part of the travelling press on Shepherd I),
    and he was magnetic and engaging. I’m sure Benedict is just the same, only on a
    different level. But, John Paul II has departed this life and is, hopefully,
    interceding for us at the throne of mercy. Benedict is here, and reigning gloriously.
    Nostalgia is ok, if seen its proper context. Nostalgia is bad, if used as a hammer to
    somehow minimize the current reality.

    As my dad said many times, if you think you can do a better job, then apply for the
    position. It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and pontificate (sorry for the simile)
    about what he is or isn’t or point out his faults or differences in light of the
    previous occupant. It’s not easy to assume the same burden, place yourself in his
    shoes, and even think you would be capable of meeting the challenges the Pope faces
    every day.

    In leading our faith, he doesn’t need armchair quarterbacks. He needs prayers, rosaries,
    and constant rememberance in executing his “Marshall Plan” to restore our identity.

    I appreciate Pope Benedict’s reign more and more every day.

  16. Benedict is the reincarnation of Augustine.

    Augustine became a great theologian by being faithful to his pastoral obligations.

  17. EJ says:

    To further Clavem’s comment above, WYD was actually intended for young ADULTS, I think I read somewhere that the targeted ages are 18-30 – and it’s not the massive TEEN event that most assume it is. As an Argentine priest once told me during WYD ’02 in Toronto, while mature teens can certainly benefit from the experience, it was actually intended by John Paul II to target and benefit young adults in their twenties, perhaps even early thirties – and that makes all the difference on how challenging the homilies should be. This would resonate with what we know about the Pope’s ministry with young adults in Krakow. There is more of an expectation that one should “entertain” teens and keep them busy so as to say, whereas slightly older youth can actually handle seriousness and sitting through a homily. It’s a shame that everyone who went to Sydney from my parish was under 18, not a single young adult in their 20′s, the targeted audience, went.

  18. Johnny Domer says:

    Father, what you were saying about anti-intellectualism being part of the modern clerical definition of “pastoral” I find to be true…it’s difficult to argue rationally with these people because if I say “You’re allowing horrid liturgical abuses like letting women give homilies and letting non-Catholics receive Communion,” they just come back by saying, “I think you’re being too restrictive…don’t you realize this is all about love…do you think Jesus would be as intolerant as you are?” You can present as many rational arguments as you’d like from Canon Law, Papal encyclicals, documents like Redemptionis Sacramentum or the GIRM, whatever; but they just don’t give a flying hoot because they’re being “pastoral.”

    I think what “pastoral” really means for them is “convenient.” It’s much more convenient for the priest, I’m sure, to give people easy lies than hard truths.

  19. I pity the people who are of the far left.

  20. RichR says:

    When asked once, on Bavarian television, what he was afraid of, Allen writes that his quick-witted response was “I’m afraid only of the dentist”.

    As a dentist, I will here and now state that I can be contacted by any group of Catholics who are being persecuted for asking for a TLM under the provisions of SP. I think I can gain the HF’s ear……..some how……

    :))

  21. Is it really the Pope’s ‘job’ to play to the crowds? I find all this ‘papalatry’ somewhat uncomfortable, and I’ve written on this in my blog.

    Pope Benedict XVI is worth watching becausing he leads by both his words and actions, but the rock star-like infatuation of the paparazzi (and us!) in following his every move is surely the kind of thing Jesus constantly fled from.

  22. Ed says:

    In Weigel’s God’s Choice he recalls a press conference for the release of Milestones, then Cardinal Ratzinger’s memoirs. As Weigel narrated, one of the journalists asked the “Panzer Kardinal,” “Why is there no mention of girlfriends in your memoirs?” The supposedly dour Cardinal Ratzinger responded, “The publishers wanted to keep the manuscript to 100 pages.” I laugh everytime I think about that…

    Seriously, though, do you suppose that Benedict gets this treatment despite having a similar path to the papacy as John Paul II because John Paul, as far as most of the world was concerned, came out of no where, whereas Cardinal Ratzinger, having spent two decades by John Paul’s side in the CDF, was rather well known, if in a negative light? (That combined with the difference in their ages at their elevations.)

  23. RBrown says:

    Father, what you were saying about anti-intellectualism being part of the modern clerical definition of “pastoral” I find to be true…it’s difficult to argue rationally with these people because if I say “You’re allowing horrid liturgical abuses like letting women give homilies and letting non-Catholics receive Communion,” they just come back by saying, “I think you’re being too restrictive…don’t you realize this is all about love…do you think Jesus would be as intolerant as you are?” You can present as many rational arguments as you’d like from Canon Law, Papal encyclicals, documents like Redemptionis Sacramentum or the GIRM, whatever; but they just don’t give a flying hoot because they’re being “pastoral.”
    Comment by Johnny Domer

    I know of no example in the NT where Christ is tolerant. There are, however, instances where he is merciful.

    Mercy, however, is not the same as tolerance.

  24. Deusdonat says:

    Tolerate – to allow the existence, presence, practice, or act of without prohibition or hindrance; permit.

    God gave us all free will, ergo, He is tolerant of our sinfullness. He does not prohibit us from being sinful. This does not mean He wishes or resigns us to being sinful. To the contrary. But by definition He is tolerant.

    You don’t seem to understand much about basic Catholic theology. Are you a Protestant?

  25. RBrown says:

    There are a couple of things going on in the article:

    First, there is the common journalistic inclination to build the article around conflict–if none, create it. And so we find JRatzinger portrayed as once having been a libertarian theologian, which is anything but true. He was, and is, opposed to Manualist theology, which he refers to as Roman Theology. Thomists, BTW, also have no use for it.

    Second, there is the inclination among many to reduce the pope to a figurehead, a Catholic version of the Queen, a personal appearance machine who enjoys watching the young people have a good time but who doesn’t govern the Church.

  26. And today (or tomorrow depending on which calendar) is the feast of Saint Alphonsus Maria Liguori, patron of moral theologians and confessors, who exemplifies that great theologians, even Doctors of the Church, are pastoral.
    So, I heartedly agree except with the slight and understandable misspelling of Dunwoodie as Dunwoody. [It is the major seminary of my beloved New York after all.]

  27. Sid Cundiff says:

    re: dichotomy

    1. In a certain American seminary some two decades ago, one found that “pastoral” was just a code word for liberal, “intellectual” for conservative (better: authentic). Take too great an interest in the intellectual content of Dogma, in Church history, in Scripture studies, and especially in the Church’s moral theology (with no wink-wink, nudge-nudge on homosexuality), and one came under suspicion as being “rigid”. So the joke: What does a liberal rector bullfrog croak about Authentic seminarians? rigid…rigid…rigid…

    2. A more common dichotomy in clergy, Protestant and Catholic, is between spiritual and managerial. The spiritual pastor is effective in pulpit, a shepherd in the confessional, does the liturgical with sacred solemnity, runs his own RCIA — and can’t balance a checkbook, hire and fire, and do payroll. Such clergy sometimes farm this job out to a layman, and thus abdicate their duties in parish administration. The managerial runs a tight ship, gets quarterly statements out to parishioners, has money in the bank, does successful fund raisers, builds the new building, knows his Canon Law, – and otherwise is Cliche City and Bromide Borough . Rarely have I seen clergy good at both pastoral and managerial. Yet seen them I have. I think of a Monsignor, once pastor of my church, now retired, who could do both quite well, and would drop the quarterly statement and run to the side of the sick and dying — and still get the statement out.

  28. Deusdonat says:

    SID very good points. I have come across many priests who simply were not cut out for pastoral duties. I would never say, “they should never be priests” but they simply did not inspire the gospel in those around them. I could give examples, but won’t for the sake of charity. There is nothing “wrong” with being a priest who focuses on the managerial, secretarial, accademic or even secluded. Many saints and church fathers were hardly “pastoral” (St Simeon Stylites comes to mind) yet were inspirational and profound in their own niche.

  29. For example: When Father allows Liturgical Abuses that are stricty forbidden by Rome, such as pouring the Precious Blood after the Consecration, allowing EOMHC’s to pour the precious Blood, using glass Flagons. The justification that is used is “pastoral” reasns. Ironically, when the Bishop decides that the pastor is to change parishes for “Pastoral” reasons, they’re more than willing to obey (with exceptions such as Fr. Phleger)

    Not to say anything bad about Vatican II, but it was a Pastoral Council. (I am in no way arguing the validity of the council). To see how the oouncil was (not) implemented is associated with weaknesses since all of the craziness that has gone on since Vatican II (even if it’s not the fault of the council, as the council said nothing about folk Masses, destroying of Churches, etc).

    For many people (myself included sometimes) they associate pastoral with these 2 things, and these things are generally seen in a negative light.

    It is for this reason that intellect and pastoral ability are often separated. Johnny Domer was talking about convienience when it came to being “pastoral.” I agree that this is apart of it. It’s just that there is nothing to justify disobedience to the GIRM by any priest.

    It is unfortunate that this word association still exists, as I know several pastors who are both intellectual and pastoral, not to mention the Pope.

    My two cents

  30. techno_aesthete says:

    he [Benedict XVI] always had a wonderful sense of humor and could kid around.

    I remember from one of his early trips, I think it was Cologne, he had arrived at an event towards the end of the day and had said that he needed to sit down, however, “That does not mean that I will be speaking ex cathedra.”

  31. Jayna says:

    Granted, I did love the moments while watching the WYD Vigil when the crowd chanted his name and he stood up and did his now trademarked wave (seriously, have any journalists not commented on it at this point?). I get this rush of warmth and affection for him in moments like that. However, that is not to say that it is absent outside of those events. When he speaks to us, teaches us, forces us to expand our knowledge of our faith, I feel the same way. He is being pastoral by means of his exemplary intellect and deep understanding of the faith. He is showing how much he cares for us by ensuring that we share that understanding and, indeed, love of our Church.

  32. RBrown says:

    God gave us all free will, ergo, He is tolerant of our sinfullness. He does not prohibit us from being sinful. This does not mean He wishes or resigns us to being sinful. To the contrary. But by definition He is tolerant.

    Not really.

    Believers know that God has not merely tolerated man’s sin but instead acted to lead him (I don’t like the word “prohibit”) from it.

    First, with the Ten Commandments, by which man is made aware what sin is (cf St Paul).

    Second, with the Incarnation, by which God gives Himself to man in order to redeem him. Christ is not only the perfect teacher, but He is also the source of Grace.

    Grace perfects nature and thus the will. And so God leads man away from sin not by violating the human will but rather by perfecting it.

    Thus St Thomas says that in a certain way Mercy is the perfection of Justice.

    You don’t seem to understand much about basic Catholic theology.

    Fr Wojciech Giertych, who is il teologo de la Casa Pontifica thinks otherwise.

    Are you a Protestant?
    Comment by Deusdonat

    I was an Anglican, but that changed years ago. And I hope that 35+ years of the study of the thought of St Thomas has corrected any Protestant inclinations.

  33. Maureen says:

    I think I read once that the Latin word “mens”, mind, also meant something like what we use the word “heart” for — the seat of emotions as well as thought.

    Benedict’s theology, and Benedict’s relationships with people, both spring from love. Love can come out through thought and analysis, as well as through feelings and facial expressions. Love can come out through presence as well as deeds.

    All this either-or stuff is a blinding mistake. Our little pope is not one to be easily blinded; he is not groping in the dark. Most people are at least a little blinded by the modern world’s assumptions. That’s why it’s difficult for people to really see what he’s doing, instead of making up stories or dreaming up illusions.

  34. Alice says:

    This article reminds me of the comments leading up to WYD about the differences between JP2 and our present Holy Father. JP2 was the only Pope I knew growing up (I was born in 1984) and I have never been able to understand whey there are some people who are resolutely against Pope Benedict.

    There’s one Catholic lady at work who refers to JP2 as a Saint. I understand where she’s coming from (I think she’s originally from Eastern Europe), as our Holy Father I had a great deal of respect and love for him – as we all should whoever the Pope is at the time.

    But she goes further and says that Pope Benedict ‘this one’ would never canonise JP2 and that she can’t stand him. I pointed out that this scenario was unlikely, but she didn’t want to know! When she found out that I was heading up to Sydney (from Melbourne – long trip!) she said that she wouldn’t travel down the street to see him, but she would travel to Rome to see JP2.

    That just baffles me. I just don’t get the whole personality thing. Just as I get miffed when some extreme trads attack JP2, I get just as annoyed with people who talk about the Holy Father as if he’s just won an election campaign and he’s working the crowds and meeting the voters. The people didn’t vote for him – he’s here because the Holy Spirit wills it. Pope Benedict doesn’t need to prove anything to me!

    Unfortunately the media does nothing to help this, because they only know how to cover a political campaign, they treat the Church as though it is just another institution. It seems that some Catholics have been sucked into believing this too.

    I really don’t like it – as long as the Holy Father is elected with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and its all kosher, whoever is Pope has my respect and love – whatever their talents.

  35. Jane M says:

    I think that during Pope JPII’s pontificate good people developed a habit of listening to the Pope and loving him and trying to understand what he was saying. Partly because of his charisma. Then he died and that habit was transferred to Pope Benedict who is crystal clear and beautiful in his writing. And Wow! We needed the gifts of Pope John Paul II and God was merciful to us and now we need the gifts of Pope Benedict and God is still merciful.

  36. Felix says:

    First, thanks to RBrown for his comment, “I know of no example in the NT where Christ is tolerant. There are, however, instances where he is merciful.” Great clarity.

    Second, my experience is that the modern pastoral approach is about mkaing feel good about themselves. In contrast with the old pastoral approach, which was about making people good.

    Third, I talked to a 17 year old just after he returned from WYD. He certainly found il Papa’s personality attractive – I think it’s because he was able to relax and be himself. And I was impressed with how this young man could speak of being chaste in a straight forward way. A lot of my skpeticism evaporated.