Even angry opponents are touched by love.
A statue of the previous Pope
Benedict, Benedict XV, was erected in
The world’s largest cathedral is
So it was that when Pope Benedict
“The Pope Without His Sting” was the headline in The New York Times. If they were paying better attention, they would have seen that he was employing the sharper sting of charity.
After all, this is a Pope who has been urgently calling the Church to show such behavior in just such situations. In the introduction of his 2006 encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love), the Holy Father gives a prophetic reason for his encyclical.
“In a world where the name of God is sometimes associated with vengeance or even a duty of hatred and violence, this message is both timely and significant,” he wrote. “For this reason, I wish in my first encyclical to speak of the love which God lavishes upon us and which we in turn must share with others.”
The love he showed in
There were many expressions of his
delicacy. Ali Bardakoglu, the chief of religious
They were also very appreciative when the Pope prayed to the one God at the Blue Mosque. His moment of meditation there avoided any appearance of concession to Islam — he didn’t kiss the Quran — but it did reflect the Church’s regard and esteem for the religion.
Benedict even noted wryly at one
At the same time, the Pope didn’t
give an inch to pressure on any of the important issues of our time. Press
reports missed the importance of the Pope’s words about
Benedict also repeated the core
message of his
In other words, he exemplified charity: deep respect for those who don’t believe, but the courage to say what needs to be said. We can learn from his lessons and apply them to our own lives. The Holy Father showed the way to deal with those with whom we have strong fundamental disagreements — disagreements regarding abortion, homosexuality, divorce and on and on — with humility and truth, both.
But his visit also teaches some lessons about charity that are bigger than our own lives.
One is that love strikes fear into
the hearts of haters. Al Qaeda denounced the Pope’s visit as a crusader
campaign and whipped up sentiment against him. Thus, an organization of hatred
and violence quaked and fussed over the visit of one man of love to a Muslim
nation. And with good reason. A Dominican priest
But more importantly, the Pope showed how charity unites Christians and strengthens the weak so they can endure crushing burdens.
“This moment in my life I will treasure until the day I die,” an orthodox Christian told journalist Robert Moynihan. “It’s such a privilege to see the Pope come into our church. I keep thinking: ‘It is really happening, after all.’ And: ‘Thank you, God! Even though they have tried to suppress everything, [Christianity] still lives.’”