In the past few weeks, I’ve heard a lot of conjecture about what Pope Benedict XVI’s legacy will be. The secular media is nearly obsessed with offering analysis of a papacy few seem to understand. If you watch television news, you’ll hear “experts” suggest that the Holy Father will be most remembered by the challenges the Church faces: the sexual abuse crisis, financial struggles and the Vatileaks controversy.
The experts making these suggestions have a very short view of history and little understanding of the Catholic Church or our Catholic faith. The Church has always dealt with challenges and controversy and with the sinfulness of her members. The sexual abuse crisis we’ve faced has been deeply painful and humbling, but only the media pretends that sins define the body of Christ, the Church. They fail to see the great good the Church does, especially in reaching out to the poor.
What I suspect will define the memory and legacy of Pope Benedict XVI is his tremendous contribution to the Church’s theology—to her understanding of the Christian mystery.
During the eight years of his pontificate, and his years of ministry as a priest and bishop, he has published voluminously on sacred Scripture, on Christian worship and on the communion of Christ’s body—the Church. Pope Benedict has advanced the Church’s understanding of herself, the world and of God’s own nature.
Most importantly he has called the members of the Church into deeper faith and intimacy with Jesus Christ, coming to know the God who is love. Not the reckless love of the secular world but the love revealed in the heart of the Trinity—the total gift of self to the other. This love is revealed in the teachings of Jesus and fully expressed in his cross.
History will remember Pope Benedict as a pastor and as a scholar. But Pope Benedict would probably say that his scholarship has been a part of his dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ. Theology serves our faith—we know the Lord when we use our intellects to enter more deeply into the mystery of the incarnation.
Not all of us are the kind of scholar Pope Benedict is. But all of us know Christ better when we know and understand the Church’s teachings and doctrines more clearly. And we know Christ more when we understand the life of the Church of Christ.
The more we form our intellects according to the worldview of Jesus Christ, the easier it is to become his disciples.
This month, the Denver Catholic Register is in the midst of its “Join the Mission” stewardship campaign. The campaign invites Catholics of the Archdiocese to support the Register, which most parishioners get complimentary by virtue of parish registration, with a voluntary paid subscription($35 for the year), and if they do not already, to subscribe to receive it. I pray you will consider committing to the Denver Catholic Register.
Each week, the Register provides explanations of the Church’s teaching and insight into her life and mission. The Register is an agent of the Christian community. It is a newspaper that will help to renew and transform your mind for Jesus Christ.
Pope Benedict’s mission was to become a follower of Christ—to become a saint. I pray your mission is the same. The Denver Catholic Register will help you to be renewed in mind and will and to follow Jesus Christ—to enter into a personal loving relationship with him as your best and most intimate friend. I pray that you will join me, and make a pledge to Join the Mission.