Thursday, March 23, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI: Approaching Year 2

CNS has the STORY:

John Thavis offers a fair retrospective of Pope Benedict XVI's first year.

His most important observation:
For the last year, however, Pope Benedict's priorities have not been administrative. Instead, he has embarked on what might be described as a project to water the roots of the faith.

He has urged Catholics to rediscover Christ as the focus of their personal lives and to resist the tendency to make the individual ego "the only criterion" for their choices. The pope has been careful to phrase this as a sympathetic invitation and not a warning.

"We continually close our doors; we continually want to feel secure and do not want to be disturbed by others and by God" -- and yet still Christ will come for his people, the pope said in a sermon last May.

As a teacher, he has turned to Scripture far more than doctrine, making connections between the early Christians of apostolic times and modern men and women struggling to live their faith.

Pope Benedict has tackled contemporary social and political issues by emphasizing a few main principles: that human rights rest on human dignity, that people come before profits, that the right to life is an ancient measure of humanity and not just a Catholic teaching, and that efforts to exclude God from civil affairs are corroding modern society.

He returns often to a central theme -- the relationship between God and man -- in language that can be clear-cut and gripping.

"Human life is a relationship ... and the basic relationship is with the Creator, otherwise all relationships are fragile. To choose God, that is the essential thing. A world emptied of God, a world that has forgotten God, loses life and falls into a culture of death," the pope said in a talk in March.
Pope Benedict XVI makes clear who the Church points to: Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. Our participation in his life, through his mystical body the Church, means we take human nature seriously. It means we honor the dignity of every human person. It means we live in solidarity with all because they are all our brothers. It means we honor family as the core relationship in which we participate in the life of the Lord. It means we order society for the good of all people, not the other way around. Above all, it means that we choose to accept God's freely given invitation. That choice shapes the very life and culture in which we will live this life.

May Christ continue to strengthen and inspire his servant, Benedict XVI. May his papacy continue to awaken all of us to the overwhelming love God has for us all.