Thursday, 29 April 2010

Cardinal George on Pope Benedict XVI: the Pope's 5 Years Marked by Love

"The Pope Tells Them the Truth and They Listen to Him"
ROME, APRIL 28, 2010 - Here is a translation of a reflection written by Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, for L'Osservatore Romano. The cardinal reflects on Benedict XVI's fifth anniversaryas Pope, which he celebrated April 19.

"If we look at Christ, he is all compassion and this makes him dear. To be compassionate and vulnerable," says Cardinal Ratzinger in an interview with Peter Seewald, "is part of being Christians. It is necessary to learn to accept faults, to live with wounds and, in the end, to find in this respect a more profound healing." The joys and exigencies of love are at the heart of the teachings of Pope Benedict. In the encyclicals, in the audiences, in the homilies and in meetings, for five years the world has heard from him that all those made in the image and likeness of God and redeemed by Jesus Christ must gather all the aspects of human life in the embrace of divine love.

The Pope's teaching finds expression in his life. Recognized at the moment of his election as a well-known scholar, prolific writer and theologian of great acuity, in these five years Benedict XVI has demonstrated to the world that he has a sensitive pastoral heart, which has led him beyond himself in the pain of the world.

Although the journeys are exhausting, he has already undertaken 14 international trips and 17 in Italy. He went to Germany where he was born and to Australia to celebrate the World Day with Jesus' young disciples. He spoke to First Communion youngsters in Rome shortly after his election. When a child asked him what to do if his parents do not take him to church, Pope Benedict suggested that others, such as grandparents, might wish to do so. And the child understood. He does not speak to young people from on high: he tells them the truth and they listen to him.

As others listen to him. He has spoken with Muslims in Turkey, in Jordan and in the Palestinian Territories. He has spoken to Jews in Israel and in the synagogues of Rome and in New York. He has spoken to two American presidents in the White House, in Washington, in the Apostolic Palace, in Rome.

During his visits to the United States, to Australia and, recently, to Malta, he spoke with the victims of sexual abuses by priests. Whoever has participated in these meetings of his has seen that the victims have been able to find in him a person with whom to weep, according to the model of the compassion of Christ. They have perceived his sorrow for their suffering. Well before these meetings, the Pope studied the reports of the cases and took decisive steps to address either the bureaucratic slowness that aggravates the wounds or the permissive culture that allows the occurrence of these crimes. And he addresses the challenge to encourage the many thousands of priests who feel betrayed by the sins of their brothers and speaks to millions of Catholics distressed by the fact that such crimes have happened in the Church that they love.

Love tries to keep united all those who call Christ "Lord" and Pope Benedict does his utmost to reconcile disaffected Catholics and to call Christians to a new unity, whether Orthodox or Protestants. He speaks to the vocation of intellectuals in the Church and exhorts diplomats to work for peace.

The Pauline Year and the Year for Priests, the Synod on the Eucharist and the one on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church are occasions to speak of that which should unite us and the Pope does not disappoint. Benedict knows that the forces of secularism will continue to oppose his initiatives to preach the Gospel in all its beauty and all its truth. However, he knows, and he always says, that love is stronger than death and despair.

The cardinals who elected him to the Chair of St. Peter to govern the universal Church count on his strength, thank God for his teaching and rejoice because the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love, corrects our weaknesses, heals the Church and unites her to her always compassionate Lord.