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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A few Benedict XVI thoughts - more or less

Looking on the Vatican website I note that the first public Letter that Benedict XVI has written is "to Rabbi Elio Toaff on the occasion of his birthday." I can't imagine a more prosaic, yet more profound statement of the legacy of John Paul the Great, and others.

Also, in his address to the Sri Lankan bishops on their Ad limina apostolorum visit included the following comment:

"We can recognize further signs of God’s goodness in the partnership and collaboration of so many diverse elements of society in the relief effort. It was heartening to see members of different religious and ethnic groups in Sri Lanka and throughout the global community coming together to show their solidarity towards the afflicted and rediscovering the fraternal bonds that unite them."

One of the great, yet wonderful, myseteries of our existence is that great catastrophes are so often also the basis of great good. No matter how transitory the unity in the days immediately after the earthquake, the fact of our universal humanity is a shining memory, and it will be repeated.

In a similar vein, and returning to my first point, these days mark the end of a regieme based upon racial hatred. It is a sad thing to say, but without the Nazis it is unlikely that the Catholic Church would ever have been moved to address and confront the issue of anti-Semitism as forcefully as it has done these last 40 years. There would simply have never been perceived to be the need. It took that great tragedy to make the Church realise where it stood, and to realise the need to proclaim it.

A final Benedict XVI comment, in this audience on April 27th he refers to the late Pope as "my Venerable Predecessor John Paul II". Venerable is a title probably most famously associated with the Venerable Bede, and I think a clear sign that Benedict does hold his predecessor in a special honour.

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