Opinion Opinion: Let’s not forget Benedict By The New Political Posted on March 26, 2013 5 min read 0 0 490 He surrounds himself with the public and makes surprise appearances to cheering crowds. He is a humble man, who frequently chose to take the bus instead of official vehicles. His name is taken from the beloved Saint Francis of Assisi, known as an unassuming friend of the poor and of nature. Almost every day since the election of Pope Francis I on March 13 has brought signs that this new pontiff will be a man of the people and a pope of the future. Catholics and Christians in general are understandably excited for Francis’s pontificate. Many see similarities between Francis and Pope John Paul II and see a bright future for this new pontiff who breaks with tradition and communicates so easily with the masses. But let’s never forget the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, who contributed much to his church that should not be discounted. Benedict is known as a conservative pope, and resigning will probably be remembered as the only large-scale unorthodox action of his pontificate. Benedict was definitely a man who looked to the past for guidance into the future, but this should not be mistaken for a blind allegiance to tradition. As Pope, Benedict wrote three books about the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. In the trilogy, Benedict writes the story of Jesus not through the prism of straight tradition, but through history and literature. In his very personal exploration of the Bible, it is clear that to Benedict, Christianity is not an abstraction but a story, and one which is still unfolding. Benedict presents the Bible and the Christian tradition as a story from which knowledge and wisdom can be derived and not simply as a set of instructions to be obeyed Where Francis seems to find meaning in actions, Benedict found meaning in words. He may very well be remembered as the most influential bible scholar of the age. Perhaps there are biblical scholars who have written more volumes and in more detail about the wisdom that holy texts have to offer, but few have the name recognition of Benedict XVI, who through his papacy was able to introduce his scholarly vision of the Bible to millions. Benedict may not have been the reformer that many Catholics and others had hoped for, and was perhaps far more reserved and less charming than the dynamic Francis. But what Benedict lacked in charm, he made up for in wisdom. Pope Benedict should never be remembered simply as a conservative pope, or the pope between John Paul II and Francis, or the pope who resigned. He should be remembered as a man who, even as pope, was still learning and still teaching. It’s pleasing to think that as Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI will remain a student of the Bible, pouring over holy texts and documents in the Castel Gandolfo, discovering new wisdom in old stories, and perhaps passing that wisdom on to his successor.