Nuncio reflects on emerging style of Benedict XVI

The emerging style of Benedict XVI as a "Pope of dialogue", could offer a model of "reaching out" which had relevance for all Episcopal ministry, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Ambrose De Paoli, told Australia's bishops at the beginning of their current plenary meeting in Sydney.

He said that two of Pope Benedict's public encounters with priests gave a clue to his style. The first was in Valle d'Aosta, at a gathering of clergy and the bishop.

"He had no problem in stating that as Pope there is the danger that he could be somewhat removed from the real everyday life, even from the life of the priests who are on the front lines, in their parishes, and whose apostolate is made even more demanding with the decline in vocations," Archbishop De Paoli said.

"He affirmed that being with those priests was a great joy and comfort for him. It is a wonderful, warm, human conversation, sharing with the priests and their bishop their hopes and sufferings and struggles for the kingdom."

Archbishop De Paoli said that in a similar vein, the Pope gathered with the clergy of Rome at the beginning of the Lenten season.

"It became a dialogue with the Pope fielding questions from his clergy. At one point he even mentioned that he was not quite sure if he understood the question which was posed. Again, a warm, human, open conversation borne on the wings of his strong faith."

The Apostolic Nuncio pointed to the Pope's recent dialogue with the young in relation to World Youth Day, to be held in Sydney in 2008 as well as his more recent reflection on the first year of his pontificate in which Pope Benedict said he will be "mite and fermo" - gentle and strong.

"For not a few commentators there seems to be emerging a Pope of Dialogue," Archbishop De Paoli said.

"This does not imply that his predecessor was not. But there is dialogue and dialogue, as there are different ways to dialogue, each with a personal touch. ...
The key that opens the door to the core message is the way it is presented," he said.

Archbishop De Paoli assured the Australian Bishops of his prayers for a successful plenary meeting.

Meanwhile, author and former priest Paul Collins has analysed the appointment of Adelaide's Archbishop Phillip Wilson in an opinion piece in The Australian today.

Mr Collins said that Archbishop Wilson is widely considered to have the credentials to deal with difficult and complex issues.

"He inherited a difficult situation in Wollongong when he was appointed in 1996, with a neglected diocese, sexual abuse cases and the activities and so-called apparitions of the Little Pebble, William Kamm. Wilson is considered to have dealt with the situation pastorally and effectively," he said.

Archbishop Wilson, he said, also is not afraid to get the church involved in political affairs. He said the recent appointment of the Archbishop's vicar general, Msgr David Cappo, to the South Australian Government's Social Inclusion Board is proof of this style.

Mr Collins said that he is hopeful that Archbishop Wilson will carry a moderate "front-foot attitude" during his presidency rather than the "boots-and-all approach" of Cardinal George Pell, which he says makes Catholicism "look silly."

With Archbishop Wilson's approach, Mr Collins says, "the bishops might begin to show some moral leadership in social affairs in Australia and offer a desperately needed critique of prevailing economic and social models."

Nuncio reflects on the emerging style of Pope Benedict XVI (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 5/5/06)
Paul Collins: George Pell does not speak for Catholicism as a whole (The Australian 10/5/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

Adelaide's Wilson elected as Bishops Conference President (CathNews 8/5/06)

Catholic Bishops give thanks for safe rescue of miners (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 9/5/06)
Australian Conference Elects New President (Zenit 8/5/06)

10 May 2006