Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Deseret Morning News, Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pope still a beacon of hope
Deseret Morning News editorial

The movie "Shoes of the Fisherman" showed how difficult it is for a pope to follow in the footsteps of St. Peter. But for Pope Benedict XVI, following in the footsteps of John Paul II has been a big task in itself. Few popes have been as media savvy as John Paul II. Trained as an actor, he had a knack with words and the public that was the envy of many world leaders.

Pope Benedict XVI was a scholar and theologian. And his tendency to voice principle at the expense of people's feelings has created tensions among Christians and non-Christians alike. His remarks about Islam being responsible for much of the evil in the world and his decree that the Catholic Church was the only authentic Christian faith left a few bruises that still smart.

Still, despite the ruffled feathers, Benedict has raised the torch of responsible behavior in the world and on balance has proven to be a force for moral strength. His recent book, "Jesus of Nazareth," is warm, insightful and accessible. He goes about doing good.

Now — taking a page from his predecessor — Benedict XVI is embarking on a world tour to share the "good news" of Christianity. The trips will include forays to the United Nations, Australia, Austria and the shrine in Lourdes, France. He has also been invited to Boston to help heal the wounds of the sexual abuse scandal there.

Each stop has been carefully chosen to bring energy to regions where Catholicism is struggling. And though the pope — being who he is — may very well step on a few more toes while speaking his mind on his journeys, his presence and vigor will bring some needed resolve and hope to people who need it.

Pope Benedict XVI may not create the buzz and excitement that his predecessor did, but his counsel and perspective have proven to be valuable and enlightening. He is who he is. And what he is, is a force for Christian behavior in a world in search of an identity. And despite his occasional public relations stumbles, the world is a better place for having Pope Benedict XVI in it.

© 2007 Deseret News Publishing Company

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