Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Patriarch of the West

John L. Allen Jr., Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and author of The Rise of Benedict XVI, writes here:
As the one-year anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI approaches, most commentary has focused on his lack of charismatic snap, crackle and pop in comparison with his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, and on the surprisingly positive and moderate tone of the first year.

Yet a little-noticed papal act last month offered another important clue to understanding this new leader of the largest and most complex religious organization on Earth: Benedict's decision to drop the traditional papal title "patriarch of the West."

He concludes:
Benedict seems willing to draw lines in the sand when the situation calls for it, but he is a listening, moderate and pastoral figure in every other sense.

That combination will make for some head-scratching, as reaction to the "patriarch of the West" decision illustrates, but it will also mean a papacy of drama and surprise.

All in all, an interesting read.