As one commentator described Tracey Rowland’s “Inside the Vatican” article, “The Pope and the Philistines”: “This is the best succinct account of Ratzinger/Benedict’s life work and of why so many of us love him.”
Our Tracey is at her rhetorical best in this article. I loved her description of the current challenges:
the Church is attacked by sexual perverts from within and militant atheists from without…while…still contending with loopy interpretations of the Second Vatican Council
Her main contention, and I agree with her, is that the next pope will need
the strength and ability to deal with the administrative side of the office of the papacy while retaining at least some of the intellectual flair and imagination of Benedict and his predecessor
I also agree with her assessments about Benedict’s ecumenical achievements:
He has also had some significant achievements on the ecumenical front and in so many ways one can say that his was a papacy dedicated to Christian unity. Since the divisions within Christianity often occur precisely because of bureaucratic heavy-handedness and intellectual narrowness it takes someone like a Ratzinger/Benedict with a deep sense of history and nose for cultural sensitivities to set about mending the bridges. It would be an interesting exercise to collect a list of names of prominent Protestant scholars who converted during this pontificate precisely because they could relate to Benedict intellectually. He spoke their Christocentric dialect and was equally at home with them in the field of Scripture studies. He broke the mould of the Catholic leader who cites dogma more often than Scripture.
She summarises the achievements of Pope Benedict in terms of his teaching, and opines:
Given the successive waves of intellectual combat he has endured in the service of the Church he loves, a future pope may well declare Benedict XVI a Doctor of the Church. If that happens, I think he should also be honored as the patron saint of people who are oppressed by bureaucracy, especially bureaucracies run by philistines.
It is hard not to agree with this opinion.