Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI
I knew I was onto something -- my prediction I made on April 1 before the death of Pope John Paul II that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger would become the next Pope was just fulfilled today! He is now POPE BENEDICT XVI.

I now make a new prediction -- that his conservatism might lead him to condemn Protestantism (because it represents a competitor for the Catholic Church throughout South America) resulting in an ugly backlash from the evangelical community so that denominational walls will get higher throughout Christendom.

The name he chose for himself “Benedict” indicates that he is following in the tradition of Benedict XV. He did not choose the name John Paul III, indicating he wants to shift directions. Why Benedict? St. Benedict was an evangelist during the Roman empire who founded a monastery that was hugely influential in the flourishing of Christianity. He was a reformer and promoter of the church.

During the influential Second Vatican Council he called the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith “A scandal to the world.” The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith defends and decides what is orthodox Roman Catholicism. He went on to head this organization and has been a strict defender of Catholic orthodoxy for the past 23 years and became a Vatican insider. It seemed like he was the right hand man to John Paul II.

The fact that the cardinals only took two days to reach a consensus indicates that they understand that to make the church relevant and attractive requires that it offer something different from the world. That fact that he has enemies means that the church is relevent. He originally was considered a liberal but during the 1960s he was very turned off by the student protests and came to be seen a conservative.

He is not only considered a theologian but also a deeply spiritual person. He is only the second Pope not to be Italian. The first words of the new soft spoken pope were in Italian to an immediately enthusiastic crowd. (When the first non-Italian Pope was announced the crowd was quiet at the beginning.) During his short speech he called to himself "a poor and simple worker in the vineyard of the Lord." He is a theological tough guy but with a serene and gentle personality.

Because he is 78 years old, the cardinals may have chosen him as an interim pope. Out of all the carinals in the conclave he was one of only two that were not appointed by John Paul II.

He was in charge of dealing with all the sex abuse scandals in the United States, he turned around over 700 cases in just a matter of months.

He is also considered an expert in the historyof the church.