POPE BENEDICT XVI
The Somerset Guardian, 4th January 2023
Pope Benedict XVI may be seen by history as a great pope, not just an interesting one. In a partnership, started with the election of Saint Pope John Paul II and ended by his abdication in 2013, Pope Benedict was a rock upon which the Church was built. As the successor to Saint Peter he was following Christ’s command.
Benedict’s greatness lay in his intellect and his valiance for truth. He was not a dogmatic traditionalist but an admired theologian. This mattered, for in each generation the Church must win the intellectual argument as well as pointing to authority and tradition.
The success of the Counter Reformation of the 16th Century in rejuvenating a tired Christianity was based upon its intellectual rigour. Benedict was trying to do the same for the 21st Century. This was not by accepting the nostrums of the secular world but by explaining the revealed truth of Christ.
The world is not perfect but that does not mean that the pilgrimage towards perfection should be abandoned by accepting an anything goes culture. Benedict indicated this in his liturgical preferences, seeing in the traditional rites of the Church a beauty that lifts the hearts of the faithful to God rather than the mundane ordinariness of less solemn practice. He made it explicit in his encyclicals, emphasising the love of God as the road towards salvation.
Both Benedict and St. John Paul challenged the basis of atheistic modernity with clarity and certainty. Their greatness lies in the prospect of ultimate success through the rejuvenation of the Christian faith. The interest is in the gloomy fear that it was the last gasp for truth.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish all constituents a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance: firstname.lastname@example.org.