I wound up at Holy Family Outreach tonight for what I thought would be my first solo gig -- my pal Karen Kral is leaving the Tuesday evening spot to become treasurer of Friends of the Newark Library. Karen and I had a wee drop at Bit o' Ireland, then she dropped me off at Outreach by myself. Nothing was going on so I cranked up the old computer with the old modem to do some Pope-surfing. Lo and behold in walked Margaret McCalpin and we spent the next two hours talking it up about Benedict XVI. Margaret was surprised that I was initially disappointed, and I was surprised that Margaret thought Ratzinger would do a decent job. She said if it had been ten years ago she would have been so angry she wouldn't've been able to talk to the kids at school so calmly, giving them an assignment to research the new pope's bio.
The hardest thing for me, I think, will be to stop calling him "Ratzinger" and start calling him ... what? "Benedict XVI" is a mouthful. Eric Ewanco or Richard Chonak, I forget who, asked is it too early to start calling him B16?
I am pleased with the choice. I find it hard to believe I was disappointed at first. I guess I was just thinking of my dear Andrew Greeley and the others who might have an apoplexy. But not only did Greeley give his good analysis of the strengths of a Ratzinger papacy, but Richard O'Brien himself reminded the world that Benedict XVI was a moderate at Vatican II.
Let us not forget that the last transitional pope confounded the world when he convened the Second Vatican Council... But I don't expect Benedict to do anything like that. He'll be working hard to continue the implementation of Vatican II. Can't have a new council when the old one is just starting to be truly understood and worked at.
I am heartened by reports that Benedict's reputation as a cold hard-ass is not really earned. One commentator who lives in Rome and served on a committee with B16 said that he was a very kind man, very approachable by anyone who worked with him, a gentle man with a good sense of humor, far different than his "papal Rottweiler" reputation suggested. Hey -- if your job is to be vice-principal, then you let the principal play good cop while you play bad cop. Now we'll have another guy in charge of the Office of the Doctrine of the Faith, and the former Ratzinger will get to play good cop.
A long, exciting day. G'night all. For the last time I'll say it. Habemus papam!
Oh -- and did anyone notice how when Benedict gave his first Orbi et Urbi to the folks in St. Peter's Square, he did it in Italian and the translators gave it to us on tv in English? But when he gave his first papal blessing a few minutes later, he gave it in Latin and nobody translated it on tv. Do you suppose the networks have nobody that can translate Latin on the run? That would be my guess. They should have called on Fr. Reginald and his Latinites in the labyrinths of the basilica. He requires his staff to speak in Latin in the office.