Are there real reasons to be skeptical of Benedict XVI's words and deeds?

by Lee Penn


Benedict XVI has gained wide popularity: conservative Catholics laud his teachings, liberal Catholics find him to be far less fearsome than they had expected, and enthusiastic crowds greet him during his worldwide travels and at his public audiences in Rome. Could the former Cardinal Joseph A. Ratzinger be the one to heal, unify, and renew the Church in our time?

In these dark times, it is natural to hope for the emergence of virtuous, holy leaders – especially within the Church. But in eras of socio-cultural decay and political/economic upheaval (such as ours), it is far more common for smooth-talking deceivers – those with “a mouth speaking great things” (Daniel 7:8) – to rise to the top than it is for holy, wise, humble, and virtuous men to do so.

As the present crisis deepens, people will seek comfort and direction from their religious leaders. It is therefore essential to know what the quality and character of leadership is that Benedict XVI offers. A good Pope could offer hope to a despondent world, a true hope based on Christ; an unworthy occupant of the Holy See would lead many to spiritual ruin and despair.

To discern what kind of leadership Joseph Ratzinger is offering, I examined his record: his words and deeds pertaining to the abuse scandal in the Church, and some of his recent statements on theology, culture, and politics.

I came to a conclusion: Let Ratzinger’s listeners beware! The prelate dressed in white might be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

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