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Ratzinger On The 4th Ballot


My prediction had been the 3rd, based on a deep intuition about the lesson taught at the funeral of Pope John Paul II. All that piety, prayer, devotion, seriousness of those crowds–it wasn’t enthusiasm that moved them, it was conversion of life. After people met JPII, they did not pray as they had before; they plowed deeper into the waters. They may not have transformed all their habits, or shed all their sins, but they kept trying, determined not to be afraid….It had nothing with being a Communicator, really–Bill Clinton was one of those, but rather with being a conduit of God’s love and life and challenge. That went deep into the heart, like a lance.

Ratzinger is on the same theological wavelength, of a more quiet German, Benedictine style. Munich is the city of the monks, and Ratzinger the scholar is never happier than in the monastic life of study and prayer and quiet. For him, service to the church is onerous labor. He has taken heart in the past from the image of a bear being turned into a beast of labor. He several times tried to resign from Rome and go back to teaching. By all reports, he is a superb teacher, open and challenging, deep and memorable, and everlastingly accessible to his former students. They all still meet yearly–or when they can.

He is a shy man, who draws back when others approach. He speaks very softly. He smiles easily, but his habitual look is that of someone in thought.


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