The JPII revolution – and beyond

If we can say that there was such a thing as a “John Paul II Revolution,” it would be that for a quarter of a century one of the most dynamic, manly, intelligent, well-loved, and noble of men was in the Chair of Peter. John Paul II was seen perhaps by more human beings than any man who ever existed. He died in public, as if to say that it was all right to die, something that his successor, Benedict, well explained in Spe Salvi. John Paul was a figure transcending his office by clearly revealing what it was. No one could be indifferent to him; few wanted to be. He could be classified as a unique personality the likes of which would not come again.

Benedict is a different sort. John Paul himself was a major intellect, though that did not seem the most important thing about him. It does seem to be the most important thing about Benedict. Cardinal von Schönborn once remarked that Aquinas was the only man in the history of the Church who was canonized only for thinking. Benedict falls in this tradition, along with Newman, whom Benedict beatified.

Any claim that Catholicism cannot be “true” must stand the test of Benedict’s mind. And when anyone avoids it, he discovers that Benedict has already thought through the veracity of the claim that Catholicism is not true. We see this irony worked out again and again in the volumes of Jesus of Nazareth.