Okay, I’m not Ratzinger’s biggest fan. Never have been. While in university, I studied much of what he’s written and, for the preservation of my blood-pressure, figuratively agreed to disagree with the man.
He’s a fundamentalist (insofar as a Catholic can be) hard-liner who uses his incredible mind to build rigid structures that he feels will stand up to the tumultuous forces of modernity. There is no flexibility to his approach and rarely any real reconciliation in his words. Given his position in the structure of the Roman Catholic Church, I suppose you can’t really expect much else. In fact, I have a certain grudging admiration for a person who sticks to his beliefs and ideologies when battered from all sides by life in the twenty-first century.
That said, what the hell was he thinking?? Surely a man who is as well-read and educated as is he can come up with a more politically astute way of condemning violence and can scrounge a less antagonistic quotation from the copious annals of history. It’s not like there’s any shortage of quotes about Islam, for heaven’s sake! Who on earth could be helped by what he said?
(Wanders off muttering to self about the idiocies of many religious leaders who don’t pay their spin doctors well enough or are too arrogant to hire them in the first place….. )
Post scriptum: For those needing a definition of the Newfoundland term “stunned”, please follow this link. I’d love to be able to attribute Benedict/Ratzinger’s words to definition number 2, but I suspect 1 is more accurate here.
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It’s especially interesting when you compare him to Karol Wojtyla. He was very conservative in many aspects of his faith, and was at least as intelligent as God’s Rottweiller. However, he had characteristics that the current pontiff is not known for. First, JPII had a great understanding of others; he was known for looking for commonalities between different faiths, and without sacrificing his own beliefs was often able to make common causes where others had failed. Second, he was gifted with great eloquence and could express his thoughts without giving offence, often grounding his arguments in the feelings and beliefs of his audience. Third, he had amazing charisma, especially with the young. Fourth and most important, I personally believe that he genuinely cared for and could empathise with those he met.
Benedict, on the other hand, is from my vague impression of him a rigid right wing theologian with a hat several size too large for him. On a brighter note, he is eighty.
The best pontiffs are exemplars of compassion and empathy, who lead by their example.
On the other hand, he is honest…