As we approach the fifth anniversary of the election of Joseph Ratzinger as the 265th successor to St. Peter, we reflect back on his extraordinary accomplishments. He has continued to move the Roman Catholic Church in the same direction as his predecessors but also to pave the way for new and equally important missions. There have been and will be many challenges in this noble effort.
I speak as a Jewish man dedicated to interreligious dialogue. Through our gestures and identification of obstacles, we work to purify the name of G-d by denying it from those who will use and abuse it for their own agendas. In this mission, I have found a wonderful ally in the Catholic Church under the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI.
Throughout history, those who sat on the chair of St. Peter have been challenged by many difficult issues. Pope Benedict XVI has met these challenges head-on with a commitment to right a wrong and unify the world’s diverse faiths in the common love of G-d.
One must acknowledge the Pope’s historic efforts to further relations with the Jewish people through his practice to attend synagogues in many of the cities of his pilgrimages. He has clearly and decisively condemned the historic atrocities committed against the Jewish people at every opportunity.
He has made positive advances with our Muslim brothers and sisters by frankly addressing concerns and by rallying the work of the good and dedicated Muslim leaders in the common cause of peace and reconciliation. The landmark result of these efforts was a collective Islamic denunciation, from some, of the violence which has soiled their faith.
Pope Benedict XVI has been steadfast in his commitment to the faithful in the Catholic Church through his work to unify fringe elements who espouse opposing and controversial views. It is important to recognize his motives to bring these people back into the fold of the Catholic Church. These efforts, while controversial, are essential when one looks at the dissolution of the extremist ideas which abound when disobedience creates a schism. Such an effort requires strength and a clear vision of the goal that may be achieved. This work must be admired rather than criticized.
While addressing the terrible crimes of sexual abuse, Pope Benedict XVI has been implacable in his condemnation and his demands for justice. Here we see his efforts to root out these crimes worldwide. His committed efforts have been unfettered by the firestorm of a merciless media, whose goals seem to be only to sensationalize and to advance their anti-religion agenda.
Mindful of these highlights of the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, one must observe that it is always easy to condemn the hard work of those who seek to end hatred and mediate differences. My advice is to look at the achievable goals that these works will bring before criticizing the efforts.
May G-d grant Pope Benedict XVI many more years of health and success in bringing his most important work to fruition.
Gary Krupp is president of the Pave the Way Foundation, an interreligious organization dedicated to fostering unity among the world’s religions.
About This Series
Now more than ever, we need to be reminded of what a Pope is. On the rock of Peter our Church is built. To him and his successors — Christ’s vicars — have been entrusted the keys of the Kingdom of heaven. Christ prayed for him that his faith might not fail, that he might strengthen his brethren.
The untold story right now in the media is how much God has worked through Pope Benedict XVI in his first five years as Pope. That’s why we began to commission short essays to honor him for his anniversary just a few weeks ago.
As the media tries in vain to pin the lion’s share of the blame for the developing abuse scandal on him, those essays are now taking on a meaning and depth we couldn’t have imagined. We’re fortunate to have this man leading us, and these tributes tell why.
We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did.
— The Editors