I think he still retains much of the ideas that marked him as a reform-minded person all those years ago, but he appears to be a man that understands the need to keep certain core values of the Catholic Faith inviolable. Although the Catholic Faith is adaptable to the needs of the time, it has to retain certain core values and principles if it is to remain true to Christ’s teachings.
Maybe that’s why I haven’t been so critical of Benedict XVI as I expected if Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope. Yes, initially I though it was bad news to elect the leading conservative of the Catholic Church to its highest post. But amidst all the attacks on the man in media, what I think are the essential truths about Benedict XVI has greatly softened my views of him.
As Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith, he had to be “God’s Rottweiler”; the job needed him to be so. But as Pope Benedict XVI, I don’t think he will be as combative, as hardline. The job has certain small but important differences, foremost of which is that he is now not only the doctrinal head of the heirarchy of the Catholic Church… he is now its Supreme Pontiff, Vicar of Christ and temporal head of Catholic Christiantity. He is now being asked by God not to be His attack dog, but as father to all His people.
And, I think the things that make Pope Benedict XVI so unpalatable to many so-called liberals – and I’m speaking as one myself – is the very thing that will be his greatest achievement: his respect for tradition. Liberal and progressive as we may think we are, we should also accept the truth that the post-modern world has undermined many of the truths and principles that served as foundations for human society for so long. The analogy of people cast adrift amongst the waves of a raging stormy sea is apt. Pope Benedict XVI’s insistence in time-honored values will hopefully balance the chaos of a rapidly-advancing world.
We’ll see. His first real litmus test is coming soon, in Cologne. This is my personal opinion, but I think Pope Benedict XVI will surprise us all, pleasantly, when he meets the future of Catholic Christianity in his first World Youth Day as father to us all.