Much ink and miles of paper   Fr. Glenn Sudano, CFR 16 FEB 06

Reading Pope Benedict XVI is not for those who only enjoy reading cereal boxes or comic strips. *Deus Caritas Est * gives us the privilege of entering into the mind of a great man who clearly presents us with the truth.


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³Nazi Pope² and ³Vicious German Shepherd² were some of the names European tabloids used to describe Cardinal Ratzinger upon news of his election to the Papacy. Even inside Church circles, conservative Catholics took delight that ³liberal heads would roll.² However, both extremes have been silenced as our newly elected Pope Benedict continues to shatter the narrow and mean-spirited image in which he was cast.


It took only hours after his election for certain media-hungry clerics to begin to hang black crepe in mourning. For them, the election of Cardinal Ratzinger marked the end of ³progress² begun at the Second Vatican Council. Now that the ³conservative keeper of the faith,² as he was dubbed, was at the helm, the only direction they could imagine the bark of Saint Peter now moving was in reverse. Yes, the ³Watchdog² and ³Grand Inquisitor² would cast a dark oppressive spirit over the Church.


Much ink and miles of paper were wasted on commentaries written by so-called ³experts.² The splashy British tabloids which printed such prejudiced lies are now too old to wrap fish. Their exciting news has now ended up where all lies belong‹in the garbage.


Oh, if we could only rewind the tape and ask these network commentators of the last election this question: ³It is generally understood that a pope¹s first encyclical in some way reflects the direction of his pontificate‹a particular overarching theme, if you will. What will the newly elected Benedict XVI choose as the topic of his first encyclical?² No doubt, the answers would be: ³a forceful attack against relativism,² ³an argument against modernism,² or ³a warning against secular tendencies creeping into the Church.² None of them would have guessed correctly.


Last week, the Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church presented to us his first encyclical entitled ³Deus Caritas Est , ²that is, ³God is Love.² Those who personally know this man are not surprised. Why? Because everyone who has encountered him knows that he expresses a real warmth, tangible kindness and personal respect for everyone‹especially for those who oppose him. He is, indeed, a learned, devout, and loving gentleman. How proud and grateful we should be that he not only is the successor to Saint Peter, but our holy father. Are we really surprised his first encyclical would be about God¹s love?


Now, if you agree with my comments, I wonder if you will agree with my challenge‹namely, to read his writings, perhaps beginning with ³Deus Caritas Est


Reading Pope Benedict XVI is not for those who only enjoy reading cereal boxes or comic strips. Encyclicals are written to inform and inspire‹not entertain. The problem is that we live in a culture in which ³entertainment is king.² Even children no longer recreate; no, they want to be entertained. Why run around outside and play when you can stay inside, stare at a screen and enter into a world chock full of fantasy? Why use your imagination when someone else can provide excitement?


³Deus Caritas Est² doesn¹t read like Harry Potter or The DaVinci Code‹it is not full of literary cliffhangers and fanciful half-truths which breed suspicion and suspense; however, if you are an adult with more than half a brain, you will have the privilege of entering into the mind of a great man who clearly presents us with the truth. He doesn¹t tell us what we want to hear, but what God wants us to hear. And shouldn¹t they both be the same?


Have you ever heard the expression gi-go? It means ³garbage in, garbage out.² What we put into our minds will eventually come out in our thoughts, words, and behavior.


Friends, the splashy tabloids with their hot headlines and expert opinions are in the garbage, where they belong.


But we, we have the gold. Go for it!


Fr. Glenn Sudano, CFR



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