Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Habemus Papam!

It's Pope Benedict XVI, f/k/a Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger!

I couldn't be happier! This man is a towering intellect, one of the greatest theologians of our time... and I've got a book of his he signed for me!

This was definitely one of the most exciting events of my life... a coworker & friend had the webcam up (I couldn't pull it up for some reason), and called me to tell me that it looked white, but there were no bells. We went to another friend's office, who has a small tv with a cable hookup. The smoke kept coming, and it was definitely white, but the lack of bells confused things. Then, Brian Williams (I had them keep in on NBC because of Weigel) pointed out that it was a couple minutes to the top of the hour, at which point the bells normally toll. That passed, though, with nothing, until the bells at four after, at which point things got very excited, not just in St. Peter's square (did you see the people streaming in?), but in our office too, as more folks joined us.

That it was only the fourth ballot indicated to me that it had to be Ratzinger, something beyond my wildest expectations, whatever the media was saying in the last week. I told that to my coworkers (it's a good thing it was him!), and I told a couple to make sure that they knew the first names, in light of the formula for announcing the new pope (see below). Then Cardinal Estevez came out and greeted us in multiple languages and began the latin formula...

Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum... [I announce to you a great joy...]

Habemus Papam! [We have a pope!]

Eminentissimum ac reverendissimum Dominum Josephum...

Yes! It's Ratzinger!

Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Ratzinger...


qui sibi nomen imposuit Benedictum XVI.

No surprise... a number of people have said that if Ratzinger was elected, he might take Benedict as his papal name, alluding perhaps (as Weigel said) to Ratzinger's esteem for Benedictine monasticism and its role in Western civilization, and then more importantly, the relationship between Benedictines and the liturgy... as others have said, we'll almost definitely see the continued flourishing of the liturgical movement as it has developed in the last decade or so.

Of course, we are already hearing the requisit references to Benedict as "God's rottweiler," etc. I'm sure we'll hear "Panzerpope" too. But those who actually know Benedict's thought know much better. Last Friday, UPI religion reporter Uwe Siemon-Netto quoted a Protestant theologian, who said regarding Ratzinger, "He is arguably the Catholic Church's finest theologian, in addition to being a very humble and deeply religious man." And again, those who have read his theological works know that.

Benedict was one of the chief theologians who worked on Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, which itself is providential... Karol Wojtyla -- as bishop of Krakow -- was instrumental with Gaudium et spes (the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World), and his successor was crucial to the other constitution on the Church.

Also in contradiction to the ideologues, Benedict is a warm, humble person, not a doctrinaire, harsh figure as some would make him out to be. And you saw this in his brief remarks to the crowd:
    Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me - a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.

    The fact that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers.

    In the joy of the risen Lord, trusting in his permanent help, we go forward. The Lord will help us and Mary his very holy mother stands by us.
Done, Pope Benedict.

Incidently, the Ratzinger Fan Club's website is down, due to traffic.

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