Thursday, May 10, 2012
Papal Profile: Pope Benedict XVI
After attending the seminary, where he did very well having a reputation as a very intelligent, devout and scholarly young man with an "angelic" singing voice, he was ordained a priest in 1951 along with his older brother Georg. He continued his studies and in 1958 became a professor at Freising College. The following year he took a post at the University of Bonn where he served until 1963 when he transferred to the University of Munster. His reputation had become so great that Joseph Cardinal Frings of Koeln, Germany took Fr. Ratzinger with him as his theologian to the Second Vatican Council. Ratzinger was included as one of the reformers of Vatican II, but would later write extensively on the need to "reform the reforms" of the council. Like many at the time, he thought the changes outlined by the Council were necessary but that these were often implemented in such a way as to remove any value or even be harmful to the Church and its work.
While doing his duty in this office, Cardinal Ratzinger gained many friends and more than a few enemies because of his firm determination to uphold Catholic doctrine. Some of the issues he tackled which gained him fame and notoriety were his writings explaining that Catholics who voted for pro-abortion politicians were cooperating with a sinful act, that women could not be ordained priests, that homosexuality was wrong and homosexual marriages an absolute sacrilege and firmly upholding the supremacy of the Catholic Church as the one, true church founded by Christ for the salvation of the world. Many non-Catholics were outraged by this as were many Catholics (or “Catholics”) who had been advocating that the Church embrace things like abortion, gay “marriage” and ordain women. While Cardinal Ratzinger was on guard, such agendas were certain to go nowhere. As he grew older, Cardinal Ratzinger tried several times to retire, but Pope John Paul II would not let this most devout and faithful cardinal go. Finally, as Dean of the College of Cardinals, Ratzinger had the sad duty of presiding over the funeral of Pope John Paul II after his death on April 2, 2005.
Benedict XVI has made sincere efforts at outreach to people of other religious beliefs but many in the secular world cannot see that or understand how the Pope could do so while refusing to compromise the teachings of the Catholic Church. While not relenting in pursuit of the goal of Christian and religious unity, the Pope has also made it clear that past efforts at times mistakenly gave the impression that all beliefs are the same, an impression he has worked to correct, viewing it as another aspect of the tyranny of relativism which he has devoted his reign to opposing. This has also fit in with the noticeably more traditional style of Pope Benedict XVI. Since his election he has elevated the traditional form of the mass (in the Latin language) within the Church, insisted on a more traditional and reverent pose for those receiving communion and has adopted more traditional style vestments than have been seen in recent times. He has also enacted special guidelines to welcome in disgruntled traditional Christians into the Catholic Church, specifically from the Church of England where the embrace of the ordination of women, gay “marriage” and other issues have caused many old-fashioned Anglicans to turn to Rome.