JPII was grand. Benedict is homey.

I loved Pope John Paul the Great and honor his memory, but I must say, I am really enjoying getting to know Benedict XVI.

John Paul was the deep and mystical philosopher, whose writings are so dense my limited intellect gets bogged down. Benedict, on the other hand, whether writing or talking, is plainspeaking, clear and direct and not at all pedantic.

“One of the dangers we face as human beings is that our memory of the evil we have suffered is often stronger than our memory of goodness,” he said. “The psalm helps reawaken in us the memory of goodness, of the great good God has done and continues to do for us, which we can see if our heart is attentive to it.”

Pope Benedict said the psalm “wants to reawaken in us an awareness of the good so that we can finally know the truth of what the psalm says with joy, ‘The mercy of the Lord endures forever and is present each day.'”

At the end of the audience, the pope offered special greetings to members of the Italian pro-life movement, which was sponsoring a national meeting of centers that help pregnant women facing emotional or financial difficulties.

The pope thanked the movement for its “courageous activity” in defending the right to life of every human from the moment of conception.

“Working to prevent voluntary abortions with attentive acts of support for women and families, you are collaborating in writing pages of hope for the future of humanity, proclaiming in a concrete way the Gospel of life,” he said.

Funny – all of the know-it-alls knew it all in April, when they declared that this “cold, stand-offish, dictatorial” pope would be the “chill wind” after JPII. Instead, he is warm, pastoral, approachable, quite paternal, and as easy to glean as a dear old uncle sharing fellowship over a cup of tea.

John Paul was a mighty pipe organ, dramatic, transcendent, soul-rattling – almost overwhelming. He brought you to your knees, before God in hushed awe. Benedict is a piano being played by a musician who plays for love of the music, and he draws you into his sphere, to sing along in praise.


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