Upon the sixth anniversary of Benedict XVI’s election to the papacy on April 19, Cardinal Raymond Burke told CNA of his “profound goodness” and praised his pontificate as one of “great dynamism” and “intense evangelization.”
Cardinal Burke, the American cardinal who runs what is often called the Church’s Supreme Court, offered as his first reaction, “Well it’s certainly been a period of very intense evangelization.”
“I think the Holy Father has shown he has many outstanding qualities not least his ability to teach very profound things in a very accessible way. Whether that’s through his visits, his Wednesday audiences or his many homilies, without exaggeration he manages to make the very profound very understandable. And I hear that from so many people I meet.”
Certainly, Cardinal Burke is better placed than most to assess the papacy of Benedict XVI. In 2008, the Holy Father personally asked the then-Archbishop of St. Louis to move to Rome to head up the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. That’s the highest court on matters regarding the internal law of the Church, known as canon law. Then, only last year, the Holy Father elevated Archbishop Burke to the rank of cardinal.
So what’s his close-up assessment of Pope Benedict himself? “One of his great qualities is his profound goodness. When you listen to him or meet him personally there’s a thorough goodness to the man that communicates itself to others,” Cardinal Burke said.
“I think too that there’s a great dynamism in this pontificate that some wouldn’t have expected from an older man. He hasn’t been able to do all the things that John Paul II did in terms of travel but he does keep up quite a schedule.”
Cardinal Burke is particularly impressed by this scholarly Pope’s ability to maintain his academic career. “The other extraordinary thing is that he’s been able to publish two volumes on the life of Our Lord. In them he’s given us a way of reading Holy Scriptures that is quite remarkable – very credible scientifically and at the same time very evangelical to those reading it.”
Out of the past six years of service, Cardinal Burke said he was “particularly impressed by his visit last year to the United Kingdom. It was a visit that many people said would meet with nothing but negative reactions. So it was wonderful to see how very receptive people actually were to his various talks and homilies.”
For Pope Benedict, his sixth anniversary will be just another working day, unlike the rest of the Vatican staff, who have the day off.