HAPPY BIRTHDAY BENEDICT
I am not a Roman Catholic. I consider myself a Christian, and nothing more, yet nothing less. I am however very warmly disposed towards Orthodox and Greek Catholicism, while in many other ways remaining Protestant (Baptist to be exact), and yet in many ways I am also warmly disposed towards Roman Catholicism.
This is especially true as to many of her recent Popes. Both the popes of the last century, and of this century. I was a great admirer of John Paul, both during his life on earth, and in his power as a Saint, for so he was, and so he remains. After the passing of John Paul II I was doubtful, I fully admit, that any newly elected pope could give as good an account of the office as had John Paul.
And when Benedict was elected I have to also admit, I had my personal doubts about him as successor to the Great Seat. He seemed in many ways a far lesser man, less impressive, less great, less imposing, less sure of himself, less a better future for the Roman church, and less a better overall representative of Christ as an active force in the world.
But I was wrong. Very wrong indeed. I began to watch the man in action, saw his service, saw him overcome his own doubts in office, saw him overcome his own fears and shyness. I began to read his works and his papers and encyclicals, read several biographies of the man, listened to his presentations and speeches and dictates, observed his devotion. And by careful observation and meditation discovered him to be far greater in his strengths than infirm in his frailties.
He is a true agent of Christian reconciliation and reunification, he is compassionate and yet strong, he is a wise leader, a brilliant theologian (his Jesus of Nazareth may be the best book on Christology I have ever read in my entire life, and I very highly recommend it), he is bright and thoughtful, extremely well educated, an ardent defender of the faith, he is an excellent example for Christians everywhere of moral bravery, persistence, and dignity. He is a fine pastor, a superb priest, a careful shepherd and a dedicated Holy Father, and even if he never desired the office, God has used him well. He is also a friend of my nation and a fellow brother in Christ, an open and sincere and very good man, well disciplined and in command of his own soul, and although I do not always agree with him, I am very pleased and honored to have him as one of the chief representatives of the Christian Church within the world.
So, Happy Birthday and God bless you Pope Benedict. Thank you for your visit, it was well and mutually met. May your papacy be long and fruitful and may you accomplish and achieve much for God and Christ in this world, now and forever. Amen.
Hope springs eternal from the Fountain of Life.
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