Benedict the Meek

Pope Benedict

There’s no question that Francis is shaking up the Church in new and profound ways. But for those who thank God for the Francis Revolution, it’s now time too to thank its soft-spoken founder: Benedict the Meek, writes TIME magazine.

- By Christopher J. Hale, TIME

A few weeks ago, Time magazine named Pope Francis its 2013 Person of the Year. And rightly so: Francis's nearly 11-month papacy has revolutionised the Church and its standing in the world.

By his words and actions, Francis the Rebel has made it cool to be Christian again.

But it must be remembered that it was Benedict — not Francis — who performed the greatest act of papal humility in 2013, and perhaps the greatest act of papal humility in the history of the Church.

But if you read the media accounts of Benedict and Francis today, Benedict is often portrayed as the anti-Francis.

In Rolling Stone's recent cover story on Pope Francis, Mark Binelli lays into Benedict, whom he refers to as a 'staunch traditionalist who looked like he should be wearing a striped shirt with knife-fingered gloves and menacing teenagers in their nightmares.'

Sadly, these false caricatures of Benedict get wide play in popular culture. It's time to set the record straight.

Benedict came into office during a strange and difficult time for the Church. The introverted Pope had to replace the rock star Pope John Paul II during a time of great trial.

The man who was once dubbed by the media as 'God's Rottweiler', perked up the ears of people across the world with his eloquent writings about the purpose of living, the dignity of all persons — especially the poor and marginalised - and the central theme of God's love. Despite public relations nightmares, when he himself spoke, people responded.

After the Pope's highly successful apostolic trip to the United Kingdom in 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron said Benedict had compelled the increasingly secular English society 'to sit up and listen.'

And Benedict was a reformer. Several of the changes for which Francis is being credited, including addressing the sexual abuse scandal in a substantial way, and overhauling the leadership of the Vatican Bank, began under Benedict's watch.

But of course, Benedict's greatest act for the Church was his last action. In a world obsessed with the cult of personality and power, he reminded us that the greatest among us are the ones who give it all up for the sake of others.

Read full article: Remember Benedict the Meek (Time)

Related coverage:

Pope's bold resignation began Vatican year of change (The Boston Globe)

Benedict XVI's personal secretary: former Pope's resignation "revolutionary and courageous" (Vatican Radio)

Pope Benedict's legacy made of shades of gray (National Catholic Reporter)

Reuters Q&A with Archbishop Georg Gänswein in English and Italian (Reuters)

Tim Fischer: Papal move the right decision at right time (The Sydney Morning Herald)

WATCH:

Announcement of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation (Vatican)

Ash Wednesday from Rome- 2013-02-13- Pope Benedict XVI's Final Mass (EWTN)

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