Friday, April 22, 2005

What warmed the cardinal-electors to Benedict

It wasn't Benedict's hardline theological position nor his intellectual brilliance that won over the cardinals who elected him. Rather, it was Benedict's pastoral manner as well as his personal and gentle demeanor that prompted the cardinals to warm up to him. I find this so heartening.

A report from CNN said that several cardinals were impressed by the way Benedict, as dean of the College of Cardinals, conducted meetings with them: he struck them as very personable and pastoral. "He called on each cardinal by name... He used his mastery of seven languages to give them answers in their own tongue. And Ratzinger regularly suggested pastoral methods, not theological legalities, to resolve problems." Get that? Pastoral, not dogmatically theological. What's the use really of being theologically orthodox and correct if one uses that as a hammer to beat others up? Both elements should be present.

And after his election, he joined his brother cardinals for dinner, then reappeared the following morning for breakfast, which the cardinals liked: "Benedict's first acts as pope -- dining that night with cardinals who elected him and coming back the next morning to share breakfast with them before Mass -- impressed the cardinals." That's not just an example for us priests (and for those like me aspiring to be priests) on the value of presence, gentleness, and the personal touch, but an example for all of us.

Here is the report from CNN.

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