Pope’s work a reflection of his very self

Published 12:08am Friday, March 1, 2013

Those who follow the online edition of The Natchez Democrat read of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.

The article included a respectful comment from Father David O’Connor, pastor of St. Mary’s Cathedral, and comments from several parishioners of St. Mary’s. The article represents a careful and, I am certain, well-meaning attempt to cover this important event. It is successful expect for one sentence: “Pope Benedict XVI was a church bureaucrat…” This term “bureaucrat” cannot begin to describe a man whose work was not an assignment but a reflection of his very self.

From childhood through his years as a seminarian, a priest, a bishop, then pope; a faithful, respectful, loving son and brother, neighbor and friend; a musician and a student of art who wrote elegantly on the subject of true beauty; a university professor; a prolific author of academic papers, books, church documents and papal encyclicals — Josef Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, has been and is a man of God whose faith finally (as is the case with all faithful believers) was and is interwoven with the fiber of his being.

Johann Christoph Arnold, senior pastor of the Bruderhof, a community of men who seek to live in accord with Acts 4:3-35, offered this tribute to the “Christ-like discipleship” of Pope Benedict XVI:

“We ought to praise God for the eight years that Pope Benedict has been able to serve and lead the Catholic Church. Still, even though I am not Catholic, I was saddened to read today of his resignation. I have known this humble man personally for the last eighteen years, and through personal encounters and correspondence, I have developed a deep respect for him. Already as a cardinal, and then as pope, he has been a tireless advocate for the true values of Christianity — values which are sadly being lost and attacked, all over the world.

Pope Benedict is one of the few voices that have had the courage to speak out for true Christ-like discipleship and for traditional family values. With his resignation, we are losing a voice of conscience that we can ill afford to lose, even as it has been rejected and criticized…”

Pastor Arnold’s piece inspired this comment:

“I read this post — written in the spirit of Christian love that has informed Pope Benedict’s life — with gratitude. It eased the sense of isolation, of a gulf widening, in our nation that was once united in respect for religious differences; one that in fact defended our right to such differences and worked to find a way to accommodate them, in a spirit of neighborliness and good will. To divide is often to conquer, or, at the very least, to seriously weaken the solidarity of those who, within their commitment to the common good, hold certain beliefs sacred. Catholics who have come to believe that they must change the very deposit of the faith that has been handed down through the ages now actually possess the political power to force the issue. Perhaps they will succeed in time. Pope Benedict has been a witness to the timeless things.”


Linda Wolpert Smith

Palmyra, Virginia and Natchez resident