Tuesday, April 19, 2005

His Own Man

Pope Benedict XVI, 265th pope of the Roman Catholic Church, was welcomed by joyful cheers in St. Peter’s Square today. It was one of those special lifetime moments that crystallize in memory and shine as bright as the new day, forever.

As a Baby Boomer, I was a young woman when John Paul II became pope. I remember feeling the excitement of that time, but not with the intensity of emotion I experienced today. Perhaps more than a quarter century of life’s hard lessons serves to make one more appreciative of the truly hopeful and joyous days that occasionally bless us. Whatever the reason, I felt chills from head to toe as I watched Pope Benedict XVI walk out to greet his worldwide congregation.

Josef Ratzinger’s choice by the cardinals caught me by surprise. As he had he been deemed a “front runner” in the press, I concluded that he had no chance. I thought that his age, and his closeness to John Paul II, would also serve to remove him from serious consideration.

Obviously, I’m not as in tune with the Holy Spirit as the good cardinals are. Catholics believe that God chooses the pope through the workings of the Holy Spirit. The cardinals simply open their souls to receive God’s inspiration and then act accordingly.

Benedict XVI is not John Paul II, nor should we expect him to be. It is in no way fair or reasonable to compare the two men, as many eager media representatives are racing to do. The Church teaches the value and dignity of each individual life, from conception to natural death. Pope Benedict XVI will bring his own gifts, talents, and graces to the papacy. He will leave his own mark, his individual legacy.

It is too soon to know what that legacy will be, but there are some hints. In a homily yesterday, while still Cardinal Ratzinger, he denounced the “dictatorship of relativism” in today’s secular society. I like what I’m hearing so far. With the world in its current state of moral crisis, this is no time for a pope to go squishy on doctrine.

On this, the first day of his papacy, I’ve heard Benedict XVI referrred to in the media as being “God’s Rottweiler” and having “a Doberman image.” If MSM is going to insist on a canine metaphor for our new pope, I do have a suggestion.

I say we call him the “German Shepherd.”