Dear Editor, Since the election of Pope Francis I have noticed a tendency on the part of some to downplay the important contribution made to the Church by Pope Benedict XVI. It's as if they believe that during his eight years he was out of touch with the 'common man and woman in the street'; that his election was somehow a mistake and that his only concern was to enjoy all the pomp and ceremony associated with the papacy!
I couldn't disagree more with these sentiments. He was a Pope who was (and is still) vitally in touch with the very soul and mind of all of humanity. His theological writings concerning the person and ministry of Jesus Christ, his contribution to the debate on the marginalisation of God in European culture will, I believe, come to be appreciated as on a par with the greatest contributions made to the Faith by the greatest thinkers in Church history.
His big concern throughout his life and papacy was truth, something that seemed to irritate not a few people including some clergymen whom, one would have thought, ought to be of the same mind as him on this issue.
Dr Vincent Twomey in The End of Irish Catholicsm? pointed out that theology has never been important in the Irish Church due to the suspicion with which mind and intellect are held in general in this country. Indeed it was precisely through Benedict's theological writings and his obvious love and passion for the person of Jesus Christ that many people, including myself, who for many years were estranged from the Church, were brought back into the fold. He was indeed the good Shepherd who went after the lost sheep!
I have no doubt that Pope Francis will equally fulfil his role as good shepherd and be able to touch the hearts and minds of many people presently estranged from the Church.
Let us pray for him and for the success of his mission.