15 April 2008

Ecce Pontifex Et Homo .

Apropos of his visit to these shores, Delia Gallagher offers a primer on Benedict the human being:
The pope has a little white house in Regensburg, Germany, bought in the hopes of retirement. He had it built in the seventies for himself and his sister Maria. He was teaching at the University of Regensburg; Maria helped him transcribe his writings. His brother, Georg, an important director of music in the same town, came by often. He transferred the graves of his parents to the nearby cemetery.

He describes his years in Regensburg as some of his happiest. He was teaching and surrounded by his family. “We were once again together,” he says, “in our own home.”

No one now lives in the house in Regensburg. His sister Maria has died; the pope’s cat Chico wanders in the garden and is looked after by the neighbors, Rupert and Terese Hofbauer, who also send jars of honey to the pope in the Vatican from the honeycombs in his garden. The calendar in the house is stopped at Friday, January 7, 2005, the last time the Joseph Ratzinger slept there, just a few months before becoming pope.

This frank portrait the pope paints of himself shows Benedict to be a sort of everyman; every man who thought his life might turn out differently.

It is a very different image than the one circulated in the media at the time of his election: that he wanted the job and indeed campaigned for it.

In a post-John Paul II world, no one knows more than Joseph Ratzinger himself that he does not have some of the qualities expected in a pope today, including “rock-star” likeability. He is a professor, not comfortable with the adulation of crowds John Paul II-style.

Benedict is the post-TV pope; the best way to meet him is not through images and sound bites, but through the directness of his talks, which he writes himself. Ironically, given his reputation for being old-fashioned, he is the perfect pope for the Internet age, where his discourses can be read in full by everyone and meditated on in private. It might be said he prefers it this way.
Here's the whole thing.


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