A Blessing for all of us
Jul 23, 2005
In my own life I remember having read his spiritual books, books of meditations, books that not only reveal his wisdom and brilliance but also his humility, his piety and his own personal goodness. .By Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington.
(30Days, May 2005) I think we are all really delighted that the Lord has given us this new Pope, Pope Benedict XVI. I think that the fact that the Conclave ended so quickly is that we were so impressed by this good man not only in the way he preached for our beloved Holy Father John Paul II, and not only by the way he carried out, humbly, gently, graciously, but with great goodness and with great dignity, his role as Dean of the Sacred College, during the days between the death of the Holy Father and the Conclave.
But also being with him we began to recall all the extraordinary things that he has done for the Church in the last 25 years at the side of the Holy Father, that he was in so wonderful a way the Holy Father’s theologian and the guardian of the doctrine of the Church, which was so important to John Paul II and so important to all of us. In their wisdom he and the Holy Father were a great team working together for the good of the Church and for the guidance of the faithful. I think that we came to remember as we watched him and listened to him that he is not just a good theologian but a man of faith.
In my own life I remember having read his spiritual books, books of meditations, books that not only reveal his wisdom and brilliance but also his humility, his piety and his own personal goodness. So that when we came to choose a new Pope, the first Pope to be elected in the third millennium, we found ourselves in the presence of a man who had impressed us by his leadership over three weeks and who reminded us by his goodness and by his holiness of the extraordinary gifts that he had already given to the Church, when he stood at the side of Pope John Paul II all those years. In today’s world he seemed to have the strength and the grace needed to guide us in the future.
This is why we all thought that the Holy Spirit had said to us: this is your man, choose him and follow him and be joyful in the fact that I have given you this new leader as your shepherd. Be faithful to him as you have tried to be to his predecessors.In the United States we have a custom when the new president is elected, he gives a State of the Union address and says this is where I am, this is where I think we are, this is where we’re going. I think the Holy Father did the same thing with great forethought in his first homily on 20 April. It could not have been prepared long beforehand because he did not know he was going to be Pope, but it was as if the Holy Spirit was speaking to him and saying: «Tell them what the Church has need of as it moves forward».
And then all the things he mentions and especially his willingness to build on the works of the Second Vatican Council, his willingness to build on those great documents. We’ve always realized that John Paul II was one of the great Fathers of the Council and played a major role in it, though Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, also played a major role as one of the great theologians of the Council. How blessed we are to have two men who can authentically interpret the Council for us and authentically lead us into following the great ideas, the great graces, the great visions of the Second Vatican Council. So I think we are very blessed in having this very good man.
Sometimes the media, (not 30Days of course!), puts a spin on somebody and oftentimes the spin on Cardinal Ratzinger was that he was a hard man, a strong man, not a man who worked with others. Well in the three weeks that we lived with him every day, we have seen his collegiality and his collaboration and his willingness to work with others and his kindness: there’s great kindness and great humility in him, in dealing with all his brother cardinals. We must thank God for having him as Pope, and I pray that the Lord will continue to bless him in his task as he leads the great flock of this great Catholic Church into the years that lie ahead.
The Pope explained to us that he had chosen the name Benedict because Pope Benedict XV was a man who worked for peace and for the reconciliation of the peoples of the world lacerated by the horrible First World War. And then he said he chose it because Saint Benedict was one of the great patrons of Europe, Europe that now must come together, to move on the right road into the years ahead. When I heard the name I thought for us it’s “Benedictus”, because he will be a blessing to the Church, a blessing to all of us. Not that he claimed to be. He will be. He will be a blessing for us in this very critical time in the life of the Church and the life of the world.