"In choosing Cardinal Ratzinger as the next pope, the cardinals have chosen a man well known to them for many years," says OSV Publisher and former Rome correspondent Greg Erlandson who was in Rome for the Conclave. "Those who have met him invariably talk of his gentleness, his shyness and at the same time his intellectual abilities and his penetrating insights into the challenges facing Christianity and modern society."
Pope Benedict XVI said in his introductory speech that he is ready to go to work in God’s vineyard and that he entrusts himself to our prayers. In We Have a Pope! Benedict XVI, written by papal expert and historian Matthew F. Bunson, D.Min., the person and teaching of our new pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI are revealed in the first ever papal biography which will be released on May 19th.
"It is my hope that American Catholics will come to appreciate his selection of the name Benedict," says Erlandson. "As cardinal, Pope Benedict had a special devotion to St. Benedict, the founder of modern monasticism, and therefore a great saint of spirituality. Less appreciated may be the fact that he is also the patron of Europe," Erlandson adds.
"In choosing a western European with such a devotion, the cardinals are clearly saying that the Church's struggle for the soul of the West, for Europe and for America, is not lost," Erlandson stresses. "The third world is critical for the Church, and the internationalization of the Church must and will continue to occur in this papacy. But if Christianity is to obey its evangelical mandate, then it must not throw in the towel in those societies where consumerism and moral relativism are most dominant. Pope Benedict is clearly accepting this challenge." For all Catholics, the next chapter of the Church starts today but for American Catholics who are frustrated by a certain lack of Catholic identity, particularly younger Catholics, Pope Benedict is likely to be "a leader who will encourage a rediscovery of our intellectual and spiritual roots," says Erlandson. "Like John Paul II, he is confident in the truths of the Church and of the Gospel. Contrary to some stereotypes, he is not a ‘grand inquisitor,’ but a man who speaks movingly of the love and mercy of God."
As we move forward, Erlandson stresses that Pope Benedict "will be truly his own man.," adding that the Cardinals did not intend him to be only a caretaker of the legacy of John Paul II. "This is a man with more than 50 years of theological experience. He is one of the few key remaining theologians of the Second Vatican Council. He will bring to the task of leading the Catholic Church the insights of these past 50 years. He knows the Vatican Curia. He knows the leaders of the Church around the world. His learning curve will be short, and his impact is likely to be profound."
In his timely new work, Bunson, the author of over 30 books including Our Sunday Visitor’s Encyclopedia of Catholic History, Encyclopedia of Saints, and the Catholic Almanac, discusses the events leading up to the Conclave, the candidates, the issues inside the Church, and out and most of all, the persona of Pope Benedict XVI, the events made him the man he is today and what can the Church expect under his reign.