Holy Fathers – Are Comparisons Fair?

Since shortly after the moment his name was announced, Catholics who are active in the blogosphere and social media have been making comparisons between Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. Perhaps we can’t help ourselves, and perhaps such conversation is better than being completely unabsorbed in the working of the Church… my jury is still out on that.

But even the Church herself seems ready to begin to draw parallels and point to divergences. Case in point, this beautiful video from Catholic News Service:

Benedictine Abbot Michael Zielinski

In the video, we hear Benedictine Abbot Michael Zielinski, an official at the Vatican’s worship congregation, offering a look at both pontiffs. I would not exactly call his words a “comparison”, but someone less nuanced that Abbot Zielinski might possible venture into that conversation.

As a Catholic blogger, I have to say that I am much more in tune to Pope Francis’ day to day activities — and his preaching — than I was with Pope Benedict. But I am quick to remind myself that this is because I intentionally “tuned in” to several new news sources during the conclave. The instant alerts I set for myself when certain media entities updated  their video or news feeds have remained intact. As a result, I receive several reminders each day of Pope Francis’ activities, recaps of his homilies, and plenty of footage of him kissing babies. All things that Pope Benedict did too, but alas I was less “on top of” his profound sanctity.

All this is a backdrop for my big question: is it really right — or fair — for us to be comparing Holy Fathers given that Pope Benedict is still alive and ministering, albeit in a new fashion? Does the media coverage of Pope Francis’ activities lend to this? Is there harm — or rather great benefit — in being in touch with our Pontiff’s day to day ministry?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter!

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About Lisa M. Hendey

Lisa Hendey is the founder and webmaster of CatholicMom.com and the author of The Grace of YesA Book of Saints for Catholic Moms and The Handbook for Catholic Moms. Lisa writes for several online and print publications, enjoys speaking around the country and is a frequent television and radio guest and host. Visit her at LisaHendey.com and connect with her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.