April 19th, 2005


Personal/Random: "Just Like Heaven"

Wheeeee! After three years unheard on a cassette, I just converted to digital and heard the Cure's "Just Like Heaven." Suddenly it's the fall of 1989, and I'm wandering through the night under the willows of the East Lagoon, lost in love with Jenny Patton....
  • Current Music
    "Just Like Heaven" The Cure

Theological Notebook: Habemus papam

Huh. So I totally did not call it! Josef Cardinal Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI, a name it will take some time to get used to. So. A German, a Bavarian, in fact, and a key intellectual, one of the leading proponents of change at Vatican II who in later years, after reportedly being very shaken by the student riots of 1968, moved to a much more cautious and contrary position. From this position he worked for most of John Paul II's papacy in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where he had a mixed reputation for guarding orthodoxy, mixed because he at time seemed to proceed without due process for those under review.

He has been a figure of some controversy, made most clear to me during the announcement by listening on the phone to one of my best friends weeping in pain on hearing of his election, seeing Ratzinger as the moving force behind impeding her being able to minister as a Catholic woman. I can only hope that all the people now being interviewed on CNN, who say that the way he has constantly been portrayed in the press is all wrong--that he is warm, shy, and very pastoral--is accurate.

Urbi et Orbi Blessing:

Dear brothers and sisters,

After our great Pope, John Paul II, the Cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble worker in God's vineyard.

I am consoled by the fact that the Lord knows how to work and how to act, even with insufficient tools, and I especially trust in your prayers.

In the joy of the resurrected Lord, trustful of his permanent help, we go ahead, sure that God will help. And Mary, his most beloved Mother, stands on our side. Thank you.

I include below the bio from the Catholic News Service and John Allen's theoretical sketch of a Ratzinger papacy.

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Loyola Faculty Portrait

Theological Notebook: On "Benedict XVI"

I just heard on CNN the Jesuit Fr. Fessio, who had Joseph Ratzinger as a doctoral dissertation director and with whom he is still good friends, speak on the choice of the name "Benedict" for the new pope. He said that his appeal to Benedict looks back to Benedict of Nursia, the hermit whose "invention" of European monasticism caused a significant spiritual revolution in Europe, for which he is considered the patron saint of Europe as one of its priniciple evangelizers during the collapse of Roman civilization. I would guess that Fessio is right on target: it is western Europe (the U.S. included) that is the new Benedict's great concern: that the Western, secularized culture needs to be re-evangelized after falling into a secular wasteland and great spiritual poverty.

Saint Benedict, a former law student in Rome in early 500s had gone off and become a conventional monk living in a cave in the wilderness. After having failed at creating a monastic community with a bunch of guys who had come to him looking for leadership (they had unfortunately conceived of being a monk as being a "bum for Jesus" who could be fed and paid for by the local populace). After meditating on this failure for a long time, he created a new community years later, this time under the Rule that he had written, one of the great spiritual documents of the Church's history, a rule that took the spiritual orientation of monasticism away from individual spiritual prowess and made the "hard work" of monasticism living in community, realizing the simple human and spiritual truth that it is easier to "love" people if you don't have to deal with them, but that the love that actually has to live with people is a much more profound and real love.

If this is the model of our new Pope, that should be encouraging in itself.