A caricature is “an exaggeration of someone’s characteristic features… often to highlight human shortcomings…. a form of satire.” Hmmmmm. Sometimes they can be funny and harmless, other times they are cutting and hurtful. Joseph Ratzinger was too often described in exaggerated and hurtful ways….e.g. “God’s Rottweiller”. In truth he was a kind and holy and humble father of the church. He was a servant of God’s truth.
It seems that he would have preferred to spend his life as the brilliant university professor along with his older brother George, the conductor of the cathedral choir of Regensburg, enjoying his beautiful Bavaria and the occasional pint of German beer.
Yet as an obedient son of the church, Cardinal Ratzinger served as the Archbishop of Munich, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Church for 24 years under Pope John Paul II, and then as Pope Benedict XVI for 8 years. He retired and spent the next 9 years in prayer.
When in positions of great leadership, it’s not easy to speak the truth in love. Joseph Ratzinger spoke the truth of God’s word in love even though it was not always received well. He gave many interviews answering the toughest questions about God and his church with transparency and patience. His motivation was love…love of God and love of the people of God.
I just began reading “The Pope Benedict XVI Reader” compiled by the Word on Fire Institute. In one interview from 2002, he is asked, “What is God like…in the Old Testament he is described as filled with wrath….”. He responded, “ The very first thing I would like to do is to complete the quotation. In fact, it says: “I extend the punishment to the third and fourth generation, but my mercy lasts for a thousand generations.” We can see how this oracle portrays an unequal balance between wrath and mercy. Mercy is a thousand times greater, as compared with wrath, and in this sense the oracle means that although I may have merited punishment and thus have fallen out of God’s love, I can always be sure that God’s mercy is a thousand times greater.”
Joseph Ratzinger was a man of mercy. I have to say that I miss this great holy man. I believe the church and the world will miss this kind and holy and brilliant and merciful man of God. May he continue to pray for us from his Father’s House in heaven.
2 thoughts on ““A Pope of Mercy & Kindness””
We’ll said. Pope Benedict united and strengthened the Church with truth in his words and actions. Sometimes a father has to say things that are true but it hurts because we want our way. This is necessary to keep the ship moving. Thank you Pope Benedict for leading the Church thru very difficult times🙌🏻🙏