National Catholic Reporter
by John L Allen Jr on Feb. 24, 2012 All Things Catholic
As a thought exercise, ask yourself what period of time the following paragraph about the Vatican seems to reflect.
“For those who’ve seen the place in better days, the Vatican looks deeply troubled. In the absence of strong leadership, internal tensions seem to be bursting into view. Even at the height of his powers, the pope took scant interest in governance. As he ages and becomes more limited, a sense of drift is mounting — a conviction that hard choices must await a new day, and probably a new pontiff.”
Although it seems perfectly apt in February 2012, in fact, that paragraph was written in late 2004. That’s the irony: Many cardinals who elected Benedict XVI thought they were buying an end to the crisis of governance in the twilight of John Paul’s reign, only to find they’d simply traded it in for a newer model.
In the abstract, Joseph Ratzinger seemed the man to put things right. As the saying went, Ratzinger was in the curia but not of it — he knew where the bodies were buried, but he was never the stereotypical Vatican potentate, forever building empires and hatching schemes. Plus, he’s hardly the extrovert John Paul was, so it seemed reasonable he might invest more energy in internal business.
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