I’m in the middle of reading Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love) and will likely comment on it during the coming week. For now, though, a word about the commentators who seem to be bemused at the former “Grand Inquisitor” of the Church turning out a such a tender document as his first encyclical. They seem to be of the opinion that Benedict has somehow become a different man from the former head of the Congregation of Divine Faith, which is the office of the Church concerned with orthodoxy, etc. What they have utterly failed to recognize is that the very same love, wisdom and cognizance of Divine Love as the ground and being of all Christian service — from the marital relationship to social activism — was also the ground and center of then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s impetus as Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Faith.
This encyclical is great reading. My Protestant friends will be astonished at how poetically idealistic the Church is in matters of Love… but there it is. Yet it’s an idealism linked inextricably to Truth, not some pie-in-the-sky unattainable mush.