Critics warming to 'God's Rottweiler'

An influential article in the New York Times this week suggested that many former critics of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger are warming up to the man once called 'God's Rottweiler' since he became Pope Benedict XVI in April.

Catholic News Agency reports that the article noted that while Pope Benedict hasn't backed down on crucial issues of Catholic teaching like homosexuality, contraception and abortion, making him extremely appealing to orthodox Catholics, more so-called dissenting Catholics have been surprised by the Holy Father's softness and emphasis on God's love.

"Supporters and skeptics alike", said the article, written by Ian Fisher, "say Benedict is revealing himself as a man more complicated, subtle and personally warm than many had expected from his years as the Vatican's defender of the faith."

Fr Keith Pecklers, a Jesuit professor at the Rome's Gregorian Pontifical University told the Times, "I have been pleasantly surprised by what we have seen thus far…What strikes me is that he is clearly a man of deep prayer and spirituality. He is very intelligent, a good theologian. And he is very humble. He clearly does not want to call attention to himself."

Fisher juxtaposed Pope Benedict with his predecessor, John Paul II, who was world-renowned for his powerful stage presence.

"His manner is gentle," he wrote, "even shy, his voice quiet and his reasoning clear, the focus less on him and his strong views than on the church and its teaching."

Even Oriana Fallaci, an Italian writer told The Wall Street Journal recently that he appreciates the intelligence and clarity of Pope Benedict's writings. "I am an atheist," he said, "and if an atheist and a pope think the same thing, there must be some truth there."

While some, like Florida resident, Teresa La Peruta, 59, admittedly did not like the Pope at first, largely for her, because of his strong stance on fertility laws, she too admitted after a recent audience in the Vatican that "He is beginning to win me over."

According to the Times, when La Peruta said this, the Pope had just donned an Italian firefighter's hat and accepted an invitation to talk with a terminally ill nun on the cell phone of a man in a wheel chair.

Many Ratzinger critics warming up to soft-spoken Pope Benedict (Catholic News Agency 6/7/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Even Former Skeptics Are Warming Up to the Pope as the Ex-Watchdog Turns Gentle (New York Times 4/7/05)
Pope softens image with less talk of sin (New York Times/International Herald-Tribune 5/7/05)
Pope Benedict XVI (Wikipedia)

Audience: God is love and has destined us to be his children (Vatican Information Service 6/7/05)
Bear witness in Europe to Christian values (Vatican Information Service 6/7/05)
U.N. nuncio urges G-8 leaders to follow up on debt relief agreement (Catholic News Service 5/7/05)
Pope says faithful must take God's message to all people (Catholic News Service 5/7/05)
German cardinal says pope's decision to visit synagogue is important (Catholic News Service 5/7/05)
Pope praises Zimbabwe's bishops for pre-election letter (Catholic News Service 5/7/05)
Pope urges G-8 leaders to take measures to eradicate global poverty (Catholic News Service 5/7/05)
Pope Benedict: As children of God, we may invoke God as 'Abba' (Catholic News Agency 6/7/05)
Holy Father hopes 'Torch of Peace' will encourage spread of Christian values in Europe (Catholic News Agency 6/7/05)
Pope Benedict decries "cafeteria Catholicism" (Catholic News Agency 6/7/05)
Letter from John Paul II to Ali Agca never sent, archbishop reveals (Catholic News Agency 6/7/05)
WYD would boost Church numbers (Catholic Weekly 10/7/05)
Novena through John Paul II for baby Jack (Catholic Weekly 10/7/05)
Holiness is not remote, Pope says (Catholic World News 6/7/05)
Israel invites papal visit (Catholic World News 6/7/05)
Israel, Germany present pope with stamps (Associated Press/TheState.com 6/7/05)
Benedict XVI General Audience - text (6/7/05)
Papal Visit to Synagogue Likely Aug. 19 (Zenit 5/7/05)

7 Jul 2005