Benedict’s pontificate has caught media and dissidents by surpriseBy Philip F. Lawler
The fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict’s election may strike many faithful Catholics as a somber occasion in light of the worldwide media campaign against the Holy Father. I prefer to look at things from a different perspective, and see the brutal criticism as a sign of the Pope’s fidelity to his mission. It was inevitable, was it not, that a strong Pontiff would provoke a strong reaction?
Blessed are you when men revile and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt. 5:11-12)
On April 19, 2005, when the newly elected Pope Ratzinger appeared on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, I was immediately struck by his calm, gentle smile. He, of all men—after years of service at the Vatican, guarding against false teaching and more recently plowing through thousands of reports of clerical abuse—knew the problems that faced the Church. He knew the demands that would be placed on him. He knew that his old age would be marked by toil and care, that he would never enjoy the quiet, scholarly retirement he had sought. Still, he radiated serenity; his facial expression on that day showed not a trace of concern. Even before he stepped out on the loggia to begin his work as Roman Pontiff, he had embraced God’s will for his ministry.
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