Reluctant Pontiff: the end of the Ratzinger/Benedict era | Catholic Culture

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

He didn’t want to be the Pope. He didn’t even want to be the head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office. Father Joseph Ratzinger was happy to be a theologian: reading and thinking and praying and writing about the beauty of the faith, guiding others to do the same.

Twice (at least) Cardinal Ratzinger asked Pope John Paul II to release him from his work as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, so that he could resume his beloved work as a scholar and teacher. But when the saintly Polish Pontiff said that he needed him, as a colleague and an ally, the German cardinal heard the call of duty and complied.

When St. John Paul II died, and the conclave elected Cardinal Ratzinger to replace him, I was overjoyed for myself and for the Church at large, yet apprehensive for him personally. Would the new Pope be burdened by this new office? Would he regret being denied, yet again, an opportunity to turn back to academic work? Then he appeared on the loggia of St. Peter’s, wreathed in smiles, and I realized that he had not only accepted his new role; he had embraced it, chosen to welcome it, to rejoice in it, because he saw it as God’s will.

That was the story of the life of Ratzinger/Benedict as a key figure in the Vatican for decades. Left to himself he would have remained an academic figure. But Providence did not leave him to himself. He chose to accept his calling rather than his predilection.


Reluctant Pontiff: the end of the Ratzinger/Benedict era | Catholic Culture

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