‘We’re at the beginning of a pontificate’

Archbishop Rino Fisichella (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

ROME — “We’re still at the beginning of a pontificate, and in my opinion it’s always difficult to make judgments or offer a far-ranging analysis at the beginning.”

Those simple words of Archbishop Rino Fisichella last night took some people by surprise. He was commenting on a new and somewhat critical book about Pope Benedict’s pontificate, which will reach the six-year mark in April.

The idea that Pope Benedict might enjoy a long reign is not new. Reporters have noticed that the German pope seems to deliberately pace himself, much as a long-distance runner would do. At 83, he seems in good health and of quick mind.

But Archbishop Fisichella is the first Roman Curia official to suggest that the controversies, scandals and missteps during Pope Benedict’s first six years may not loom so large in the future. At the very least, he said, “a sense of history should make us prudent and cautious from this point of view.”

He recalled that Pope John Paul II’s first years were also troubled by disagreement and internal dissent, making them “the most terrible and the longest years” of his pontificate. Pope Paul VI in his first six years was ignored, a true “voice crying in the wilderness,” and he gained stature in Italy only later, with actions like his direct appeal to Red Brigades terrorists, Archbishop Fisichella said.

As head of the newly formed Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, Archbishop Fischella said he appreciates that Pope Benedict has unfinished business as supreme pontiff. He said the pope’s main project is one of formation, in response to an “educational emergency” that afflicts people inside and outside the church.

He made the remarks at a press conference in Rome to present the book, C’era una Volta un Vaticano (“Once Upon a Time There Was a Vatican”) by Massimo Franco, a respected journalist who has written about Italian politics and the Catholic Church. The book describes a series of challenges that have greatly reduced the church’s influence in social and political life, including the sex abuse crisis and what the author calls the Vatican’s “gaffe factory.”

8 Responses

  1. May God help Pope Benedict.

  2. Pope Benedict XVI will go down as one of the greatest popes of truth and love in the past century as well as being revered for his humility, respect for all, and his profound wisdom. Pope John Paul II became a saint through his papacy. Pope Benedict XVI came to the papacy a saint.

  3. Long live Pope Benedict XVI. I pray he has many years to stir the Bark of Peter into calm waters! Benedict’s teaching and Liturgy will form the Church in holiness and truth for years to come.

  4. Benedict XVI is in a class of his own – HE is the great Pope. Even more important: he is a pastor who makes Christ visible and audible because Benedict never nourishes his own ego.

    I am one of thousands of Protestants who had never been touched, intrigued or spiritually and intellectually reached by previous Popes, including John Paul II. (Sorry friends….)
    Benedict XVI, however, is the reason I am now a joyful Catholic. And there are many more like me.

    Had he been a Mafia leader he would have gotten rid of some his “aides” though and most of the “gaffes” of his pontificate would not have happened. In all fairness, there really is only one “gaffe” from his side and if the whole background is known, even this gaffe is not his.

    Long live this Pope and pastor.

  5. I needed help finding information about my high school in Austin, Texas, St. Mary’s Academny. I called and was told repeatedly that I had the wrong number. Finally I had the “right number” and no one could even treat me kindly. I was told this is the number you must call “next time.” I had been treated with so little coutesy by my Church I assured the lady I would not call back ever. Chancery of Austin,Texasis this really Chirist’s message you want to send that noone cares about your calls or needs even though you were baptised at St. Austin’s Church. Kindness and love was what I was taught as a young Catholic and yet I found neither when I had a simple question for you.

  6. I definitely believe that the present Pontiff is in a class of its own. His public stands during the first years of his pontificate have been far-reaching and prophetic to say the least. He seems to have the wonderful ability to dissect events and news and media reports and hit the nail that matters on the head. May God blkess Him always.

  7. Long live the Pope!

  8. I was recently reading a book by the then Cardinal Ratsinger and was pleasently surprised by its spirituality. Perhap he is a much better p[erson than the press allow him to be. I do however think he’s going to get a big shock when he gets to heaven and meets all the women who have , over hundreds of years, been deacons and priests within the Catholic church. Was their ordination also ‘not in the mind of God’?’ – for such a long time. I visited a stately home today. The kitchen contained many things we no longer use because we have learned to do things in a new way, cleaner, healthier and all the rest. The Pope needs to realise that change is not necessarily a bad thing – hard fopr someone of his age and so settled, but as long as women continue to be excluded from th e diaconate and priesthood half of the resources God has graciously made available are being wasted. If you read this and did not realise that there had been women priests and deacons go to Women Priests .com and read their collection of ancient texts. Yours Writemaggie

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