Pope Benedict's Surprise

But now it's time for the Vatican to show the love that the pope extols in his first encyclical.

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We have failed to honor the ideals of love especially in our attitudes towards divorced and remarried Catholics, homosexuals, victims of abuse and their families, "fallen away" Catholics, immigrant workers, women, the poor and the oppressed, married priests, the emotionally troubled, the elderly, teens and young adults - the list goes on.

To create this list is not to suggest in the present context solutions, other than to ask whether we should consider them from the perspective of the God who is love. If one considers these folk in the light of God is Love, it becomes clear that there is a lot of work to do.

A conclusion one might draw from the Pope's analysis is that the love between man and wife should in some sense be a model for all relationships were love is required. The Pope says love is the act of the self-giving, from God on down. It is essential to the marital gift of self that spouses listen to one another, patiently, constantly, sensitively. Many of the people in the above list feel that church leaders do not listen to them, do not give themselves in the relationship. A listening church would be far more attractive to its members and to others than the present church which sometimes seems incapable of listening.

Pope Benedict has disappointed many of those who were enthusiastic about his election and who are now demanding that he reform his policies. They object to his failure to "clean out" the Curia, to his appointments, (both to his own previous office and to San Francisco), to his reluctance to deal with those who say that gays may still be priests, and especially to his tolerance toward the Jesuits. The rants of such folk are certainly within their rights to express personal opinions to the Pope.

Nor is it for me to say how he will react to such claims of special access to the Pope. That is between him and them. Father Hans Kung, a one-time and now-again personal friend of the Pope, argued immediately after his election that one should give him time before making judgments. This refusal to rush to judgment was excellent advice.

Benedict seems likely to follow his own insights, hopefully after listening.

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