Pope Benedict XVI is an interesting, cerebral fellow. He may seem somewhat out of his element in the 21st century, but he is anything but. For example, the Holy Father is a classical pianist but uses an 2GB iPod. Dressing in centuries-old styled religious vestments, he is the first pope to regularly don designer Italian eyeglasses. Yesterday, PBXVI made news by becoming the first Pope to participate in a Good Friday televised question and answer session.
No doubt that the Vatican carefully seeks to maximize these contrasts for public relations gain, but even so, this pontiff is different (and it goes beyond the eyeglasses, the iPod, and the shoes). In this fast-paced technological world, you grow to appreciate constants and predictability more so than ever before. PBXVI, as did his predecessor, understood that. Consider this excerpt from his Palm Sunday message:
The great achievements of technology are liberating and contribute to the progress of mankind only if they are joined to these attitudes – if our hands become clean and our hearts pure, if we seek truth, if we seek God and let ourselves be touched and challenged by his love.
How is that for raising you up, then delivering the requisite reality check? Anti-Catholics, and liberal cafeteria Catholics, usually shudder when he says things like this, but some of us are glad that he does. And let’s hope he can keep doing so for many years to come. It is too early to know if PBXVI will succeed transitioning the faith in the instant gratification world, making him the first iPope. But he is well on his way.
In the end, some argue that the Church may be smaller for sticking with traditions that have survived centuries. This usually comes from impatient folk, usually a sect of American Catholics that want to Americanize the religion. Whatever that means. Fortunately, this relativism fad too, shall pass. And it is good to have people like Pope, and our priests and other religious, in today’s world, just as they are. The Pope wears Prada. So let it be written, so let it be done.