- Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal
- Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8M in case vs. ‘American Sniper’ author Chris Kyle
- Government OKs Arab-owned company to operate U.S. cargo port
- Defense lawyer: McDonnell’s wife had ‘crush’ on CEO
- Chinese hackers stole ‘huge quantities’ of sensitive data on Israel’s Iron Dome
- House unveils bill to speed deportations of illegal immigrant children
- Californians protest middle school for hiring white man to teach cultural studies
- Killer’s sentencing overturned because mother couldn’t find seat in courtroom
- Hillary: ‘Dead broke’ comment was ‘inartful,’ but insists it was ‘accurate’
- Fla. mom arrested for allowing 7-year-old son to walk to park alone
A reluctant leader, Pope Benedict leaves legacy of ‘new evangelization’
Question of the Day
Where Pope John Paul II was charismatic, loved the spotlight and became famous for grand gestures, Benedict, despite his “God’s Rottweiler” nickname, was known to be bookish and private — he later said he prayed not to be elected pope but “evidently, this time He didn’t listen.”
Benedict, who formally ends his papacy Thursday after his stunning resignation announcement eariler this month, remains “very much a professor, a man of prayer, a man of study, his own demeanor is very humble. He doesn’t find himself at ease in being in the public spotlight,” said the Rev. Mark Morozowich, dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at Catholic University in Washington.
The frail pope, the first to retire as Bishop of Rome in 600 years, received an emotional and very public send-off as some 150,000 well-wishers flooded St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican to hear his farewell address. The often reserved Benedict took a long victory lap around the square, stopping the Popemobile to kiss and bless a half-dozen babies along the way.
“To love the church means also to have the courage to take difficult, painful decisions, always keeping the good of the church in mind, not oneself,” Benedict said to thundering applause from the crowd and from dozens of cardinals who have descended on Rome to choose his successor in the coming weeks.
Despite lacking the public charisma of his predecessor, in fields ranging from the liturgy, ecumenical relations and theology to the handling of sex-abuse cases and other scandals that hit the church in recent years, Benedict in just eight years was able to carve out his own legacy, in significant part by continuing John Paul’s work in different ways.
Benedict “was John Paul’s right-hand man for 24 years” as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the church’s chief orthodoxy overseer, said Monsignor Paul McPartlan, professor of systematic theology and ecumenism at Catholic University. “There’s a big difference in style and personality, but in terms of core commitments there’s a profound continuity between the two.”
While John Paul was raised as a Pole under Nazi occupation or Communist tyranny, Joseph Ratzinger spent most of his adult life in postwar West Germany, where secularism and consumer society held sway.
In a homily shortly after John Paul’s death, Benedict identified “the dictatorship of relativism” as the principal problem facing both society and the modern church. While it “recognizes nothing as definitive,” it turns “the self and its desires” into the only basis for truth and for action.
“One of the great themes of Pope Benedict’s pontificate has been to show the importance that reason has for a life of faith and the importance faith has for all of those who use their minds,” said Monsignor McPartlan.
To counter those trends in the rich, secularized West, Benedict promoted “the new evangelization.” In deliberate contrast with the image of spreading the Gospel to new areas, the “new evangelization” seeks to reawaken and revive it in nations, especially in Europe, that have been culturally Christian for centuries.
Although it was John Paul who first popularized the term, Benedict gave it new force, creating a separate council to promote it within the Roman Curia. Dedicating the council in June 2010, Benedict noted that “the process of secularization has produced a serious crisis of the sense of the Christian faith and role of the Church” that has produced “a sort of ‘eclipse of the sense of God.’”
“Very fearlessly and courageously he’s taken the Gospel right into the public square” in numerous public addresses at secular parliaments and universities, said Monsignor McPartlan.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- Senate Democrats plan bill to reimpose Obamacare birth-control mandate
- '12 Years a Slave,' 'Gravity' take top honors at Oscars
- Cruz, Lee among top scorers in ACU conservative survey
- CNN to cancel Piers Morgan show amid ratings collapse
- Lineman likely to become NFL's first openly gay player
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
- Boehner rules out impeachment: 'Scam started by Democrats'
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- GOP Senate candidate: Obama needs to visit Central America
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- Smugglers, rainstorm combine to poke holes in border fence
- California's Jerry Brown cites God, 'religious call' to embrace illegals
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Kerry's credibility questioned as fighting in Gaza rages
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- Appeals court upholds Obamacare tax as constitutional
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world