Tod Worner has a good post here on Pope Benedict’s real identity in contrast to the media depiction of him as the antithesis of the likable Pope Francis.
Pope Francis has taken the world by storm. With an ever-present smile, affable demeanor and boundless energy, Pope Francis has waded deep into crushing crowds, ridden in tiny open-windowed cars through delirious throngs of the faithful, and (reportedly) embarked on clandestine late night outings to minister to the needy on dark Roman streets. He has given off-the-cuff interviews, engaged in thoughtful debates with his deepest critics, and shocked people simply by dialing them up on the phone. In his speeches and writings, he exudes love, faith and hope. He truly is a faith-filled shepherd.
and Benedict? Was he really the Panzer Cardinal, God’s Rotweiller…Ratzi the Nazi?
Over and over again, you hear Pope Benedict XVI illustrate a warm, inviting, merciful theme of friendship with Christ. God is not an abstraction. He is here. And He is our friend, our guide, our advocate. It is difficult at times to live (and die) for a Creed, even though we do. It seems infinitely more sensible and tangible to do so for a Person. As Flannery O’Connor once observed about the the abstract vs. tangible experience of faith,
“Our response to life is different if we have been taught only a definition of faith than if we have trembled with Abraham as he held a knife over Isaac.”
Pope Benedict XVI sought to reintroduce us to the person of Christ – the person of Christ who came into history and then transcended it, the person of Christ who welled up with love and winced with pain, the person of Christ who peered with infinite love and mercy into the eager eyes of Peter, the treacherous eyes of Judas and the tearing eyes of Mary.
Now isn’t that something? The Pope who is derided as the Rottweiler disciplinarian, the detached intellectual, the malevolent Hyde to Pope Francis’ earnest Jekyll…that same Pope, in his own style and deep substance, simply wanted us to cultivate the greatest friendship we could ever imagine. Perhaps, yes perhaps, that is what Pope Benedict XVI’s entire papacy was about. Friendship with Christ.