A friend recently noted that, for all his greatness, Blessed John Paul was not necessarily the best judge of character or ability when it came to appointing bishops. This piece from Vatican Insider/La Stampa may help to explain why; it also points out what his successor is doing differently:
Not many are aware of the fact that a great deal of Benedict XVI’s time and effort is spent on mysterious work which does not and should not attract the media’s attention but is fundamental to Church life: this is in order to prevent giving the media any negative reasons to start focusing on it any time soon.
Benedict XVI is adamant that the strength – and weakness – of the Church is found first and foremost in the dioceses, in local Churches. During John Paul II’s pontificate, the choice of bishops was often left to presidents of Episcopal Conferences, to nuncios and to other components of the central and local Churches. If what is told to us is true, – and we have no reason to doubt it is so – the Pope has, in recent years, been reluctant to sign anything. John Paul II delegated; he trusted those he worked with, sometimes unsuccessfully, as history has shown us.
Benedict XVI’s has a different style. He studies every dossier prepared for the three candidates in each diocese, he examines the course of studies and professional experience of potential future bishops and finally takes a decision. Indeed, he often asks for other candidates to be presented to him if he is not satisfied by the individuals who have been shortlisted. It is a tedious and not particularly glamorous task, but one for which the Church of the next few decades will be very grateful to him.
This is Benedict XVI’s style and it remains unchanged since his cardinal days. It is a solitary one for sure; a part from the occasional visit to elderly German speaking cardinals, it is impossible to recall a time when Ratzinger showed a social streak during his time in the Curia, inviting and being invited to the homes of colleagues and friends.
Read the rest. And happy birthday, Papa! Ad multos annos!