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Friday, August 19, 2005

Do You Know Benedict XVI?

by Brendan Hodge
When Joseph Ratzinger stepped out onto the balcony of St. Peter’s and was introduced to the world as Pope Benedict XVI, he was a man whose name was familiar to many, but whose personality was relatively unknown. Even those Catholics who were already prepared to love him for his unswerving orthodoxy had little idea what sort of persona he would project as pope.
Now, as his papacy passes the 100 day mark, we have begun to form a picture of Pope Benedict the man, as well as Pope Benedict the theologian. Perhaps less charismatic than John Paul II, who had the natural talent of projecting his warmth and personality across an entire baseball stadium, Benedict XVI, though shyer than his predecessor, has a personal, almost grandfatherly touch when mixing with the faithful after his Wednesday audiences.
Adding to his personal warmth is his readily understandable style of preaching. John Paul II’s insights into the philosophy and theology of the human person, which he expounded during his Wednesday audiences, require careful concentration to understand. (My own attempt at reading his “Theology of the Body” during lunch breaks hasn’t worked out so well…) But Benedict XVI’s style of preaching is simpler and more readily accessible, as many of us have already discovered thanks to the media whose recent focus on the new pontificate has given us an unusual opportunity to read samples of his audiences and sermons.
Like his predecessor, Benedict is both talented and intellectual. He is an accomplished classical pianist who brought an upright piano (as well as two suitcases full of books) on his recent vacation.
His kindness and his humility are well known to his personal friends — including a German laywoman — Ingrid Stampa — who since the death of the Pope's sister, Maria Ratzinger, has served as house keeper, confidant, and intellectual sounding board. The new pope is also fond of cats, keeping two in his personal apartments (those he lived in prior to his elevation to the papacy -- pets are not allowed in the Vatican) and having frequently fed the stray cats which inhabit the ancient Forum and Coliseum in Rome.
Brendan Hodge is part owner of, a website providing high quality photographs of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

1 comment:

Q said...

This column was edited because much was a plug for . I still left the link in it for