Papal Secretary Highlights Benedict XVI's Courage

Reflects on Pope’s Greatest Convictions

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 28, 2010 ( Benedict XVI’s private secretary is underlining the Pope’s courage, his fearlessness regarding confrontation and debate, and his constant stand for the truth.

These were some of the reflections shared by Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, who spoke about the Pontiff’s first five years of pontificate during an award ceremony.

The priest was awarded the Capri San Michele prize for his Italian-language book “Benedict XVI Urbi et Orbi” (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2010).

In his reflections, published by L’Osservatore Romano, Monsignor Gaenswein spoke about the “warm” side and the “simplicity” of the Holy Father.

The priest particularly highlighted the courage that marks this pontificate: “He calls by name the defects and errors of the West, criticizes the violence that attempts to have a religious justification.”

He noted that Benedict XVI “does not cease to remind us that with relativism and hedonism and by imposing religion through threats and violence one turns one’s back on God.”

The Holy Father’s private secretary affirmed that this Pontiff, whom he described as the “Pope of the word,” puts all his interest in reaffirming “the nucleus of the Christian faith: God’s love of man.” 

Faith and reason

The priest noted that at the center of Benedict XVI’s thought is the question of the relationship between faith and reason, between religion and rejection of violence.

He added that for the Pope, “the re-evangelization of Europe and of the world will be possible when men understand that faith and reason are not opposed but complement one another.”

Deep down, Monsignor Gaenswein said, “the Pope wants to reaffirm the nucleus of the Christian faith: God’s love of man, which finds in Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection an unsurpassable expression.”

“This love is the immutable center on which Christian confidence in the world is based, but also the commitment to mercy, charity and refusal of violence,” he added.

The secretary explained: “The message of the Successor of Peter is as simple as it is profound: Faith is not a problem to resolve, it is a gift to discover, day after day. Faith gives joy and fullness.” 

Proclaiming Christ

He noted also that “if all looks and cameras are fixed on the Pope, it’s not because of him.”

Rather, the priest said, “the Holy Father doesn’t place himself at the center, does not proclaim himself,” but he proclaims Jesus Christ, “the only redeemer of the world.”

Monsignor Gaenswein said: “Faith helps one to live; faith gives joy; faith is a great gift: Herein lies Pope Benedict’s most profound conviction.”

Each Pope responds to Jesus’ call with “his personality” and “his sensitivity,” noted the secretary.

He continued: “Benedict XVI is not John Paul II. God doesn’t like repetition or photocopies.”

For this reason, the priest said, “there is here something truly singular and edifying; Pope Benedict XVI presented himself to the world as the first devotee of his predecessor: This is an act of great humility, which amazes and incites admiration.”

Pope Benedict XVI has given the Church and the world a wonderful lesson of pastoral style, Monsignor Gaenswein said. “Whoever begins a pastoral service — here is his lesson — must not erase the footprints of the one who worked before, but must humbly put his feet in the footprints of the one who has walked and grown tired before him.”

Thus, he added, Benedict XVI “has taken up this heritage and has constructed, with his humble and reserved style, with his peaceful and profound words, with his courteous but incisive gestures.”

The priest concluded: “John Paul II was the Pope of great images. Benedict XVI is the Pope of the word, of the force of words: He is a theologian more than a man of great gestures, a man who ‘speaks’ of God.” 

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