The third anniversary of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s election as Pope was marked on Saturday while he visited New York City. What follows is a brief analysis of his three years as Pontiff.
Observers suggested the new Pope would reflect the characteristics of Cardinal Ratzinger, whom the media was convinced was “God’s Rottweiler”. However, since the beginning of his papacy, Benedict XVI has uniquely surprised nearly everyone with his warm and paternal approach. As was seen in his addresses here in the U.S., Pope Benedict has been calling for a renewal of the Church.
The results of the New Pentecost are already bearing fruits. In Benedict’s reign, he has acted as the global bridge builder of peace and religious toleration. Initially, most of the world did not understand his integration of Catholic theology with political policy. His visit to Germany, for example, demonstrated how Islamic believers had difficulty understanding his subtle arguments. Benedict however, has learned to negotiate the complex world political scene and offer the world a no compromise, gentle presentation of Catholic theology and moral teaching.
The Pope has also been prolific in writing. In the last 3 years, he has produced two encyclicals, “Deus Caritas est” and “Spe Salvi”, which elaborated on the virtues of love and hope. A third is expected in May 2008 on social issues. Additionally, the Pope has released Summorum Pontificum, restoring global permission to celebrate the Mass of Blessed John XXIII.
The Pontiff has also accumulated a good number of frequent flier miles with his eight foreign apostolic voyages outside of the Vatican, including trips to Turkey, Germany, the United States, and Brazil. The Holy Father will also appear at World Youth Day in Australia in July 2008.
The Benedictine papacy continues to unfold with Pope Benedict’s uncompromising call for the Church to renew itself in a sacramental and evangelical manner through belief in Jesus Christ. In New York, the Holy Father also illustrated the importance of interreligious harmony and human rights to the United Nations.
Pope Benedict—in just three years—has begun to build new bridges of understanding with parts of the world’s population that have either rejected or ignored the message of the Gospel. Far from the stodgy doctrinal watchdog that the media portrayed, the world has come to see Benedict XVI as a vibrant, active and intellectually strong Pope that intends to bring Christ to youth and the rest of the world through his writings and paternal activities.