Vatican expert says Benedict showing he is more evangelist than diplomat

.- Pope Benedict XVI is “less diplomacy and more Gospel,” says journalist and Vatican expert Sandro Magister in a Sept. 18 column, titled “Islam’s unreasonable war against Benedict XVI”.

According to Magister, this orientation guided the Pope in his new Vatican appointments and led him to make “such politically incorrect and such potentially explosive” comments about Islam on his recent trip to Germany.

What is evident from the appointment of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone — a man who has spent his priestly life as a pastor rather than as a diplomat —  to the position of Secretary of State is that the Pope is seeking, above all, collaboration in his papal responsibility of “strengthening the brethren in faith,” says Magister.

The appointment of Archbishop Dominique Mamberti — a Church diplomat who was born in Marakesh and is familiar with the Muslim world and questions of interaction between faiths and civilizations — as the Vatican’s new foreign minister follows the same precept, says the journalist.

Although most of the press and reaction to his trip to Germany were comments about Islam in his Sept. 12 speech at the University of Regensburg, the main purpose for the Pope’s trip to his homeland was to preach the Gospel, Magister observes.

 “I came to Germany, to Bavaria, to re-propose the eternal truths of the Gospel as present-day truths and strength, and to strengthen believers in their adherence to Christ, the Son of God who became man for our salvation,” the Pope plainly stated at the end of his visit. “I am convinced in the faith that in him, in his word, is found the way not only to attain eternal happiness, but also to build already a future worthy of man upon this earth.”

Magister writes that although many Popes vet their speeches with a team of editors, Pope Benedict “is not a Pope who submits himself to such censorship or self-censorship, which he sees as being inopportune and dangerous indeed when it concerns the pillars of his preaching.”

He says the goal of the Pope’s trip to Germany, in which light we should read the Pope’s speech at the University of Regensburg, “was to illuminate before modern man … that simple and supreme truth that … God is love, but he is also reason; he is the ‘Logos.’”

“When reason separates itself from God, it closes in upon itself,” Magister continues. “And likewise, faith in an ‘irrational’ God, an absolute, unbridled will, can become the seed of violence.

“Every religion, culture, and civilization is exposed to this twofold error – not only Islam, but also Christianity, toward which the Pope directed almost the entirety of his preaching,” he states.

The violent reaction that followed the Pope’s statements elicited more of a pastoral, rather than a diplomatic, response from the newly appointed Vatican curia and the Pontiff, Magister observes. Archbishop Mamberti appealed for a “direct” and complete reading of the lecture the Pope gave in Regensburg.

Cardinal Bertone reaffirmed the “unmistakable” positions of the Pope, his dismay over the interpretations of his thought, and the hope that “those who profess Islam may be aided to understand his words in their right meaning.”

The Pope followed with a clarification and a personal expression of deep sorrow for the violent reaction that followed his comments.

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April 24, 2014

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