Thursday, December 14, 2006

Magister: “Habemus Papam.” Twenty Months Later, a Portrait

One of the blogs I enjoy checking in on most each week is that of Sandro Magister who writes for the Italian weekly, L'espresso on religion - mostly Catholic and often with a focus on the Vatican.

Benedict XVI doesn’t seek applause, he doesn’t harangue the crowds, but he’s still extremely popular. He himself has explained his secret: it is “obedience to the truth, not to the dictatorship of popular opinion”

by Sandro Magister

[snip]Read the lead-in to an article Magister provides within his blogpost that was recently in L'espresso. Here I give you the beginning of that excellent article.

Benedict XVI, a Pope Armed with “Purity”

by Sandro Magister

The numbers speak. Benedict XVI is the most popular pope in history, if by people one understands those whom he draws like a magnet to St. Peter’s Square each Sunday for the Angelus and each Wednesday for the general audience, from Rome and from all over the world.

Attendance is routinely more than twice that seen by his predecessor, John Paul II, who in his turn had shattered all the records. But the most amazing thing is the relationship between the demand and what is on offer. The winning product that Benedict XVI offers to the crowds is made of nothing but his plain words.

At the Angelus, two times out of three pope Joseph Ratzinger explains the Gospel of that Sunday’s Mass to an audience that includes people who don’t go to church every week – and some who don’t go at all. He explains this with simple words, but these demand and receive attention. There is an impressive silence in St. Peter’s Square when he is speaking. And at the end of the very short homily, he immediately begins the Angelus prayer, without even a momentary pause. This is his effective means of preventing an outbreak of applause. This does happen, but at the end of the entire ceremony, at the moment of the greetings in the various languages.

As pope, Benedict XVI doesn’t give an inch to the preconceptions that were formed about him as a cardinal. He doesn’t thunder condemnations, he doesn’t hurl anathemas. He reasons staunchly, but serenely. His criticisms against modernity or against the “pathologies” that he sees even within the Church are fully elaborated. That is part of the reason why he has practically silenced Catholic progressivism: not because this has turned friendly toward him, but because it is not able to reply to him with arguments of similar persuasive power.


Continue reading Magister on Benedict XVI after 20 Months...

As a Catholic and a blogger there is something more to Pope Benedict's style to learn from. He does not use a sledge hammer approach to dealing with dissidence or progressivism. He uses a soft tone, but with words that carve through an issue in a way that just can't be dismissed or outspoken. Magister makes this precise point in that last paragraph.