Americans exhausted by adolescent chants of “Pass this bill!” and the rest of the rhetorical detritus of the 2012 pre-campaign might go to the Vatican web site, click on Pope Benedict XVI, and spend a half-hour reading through the texts of the Holy Father’s recent visit to his German homeland. It’s amazing how refreshing it can be to listen to an intelligent and compassionate adult after weeks slogging through the slough of sound-bites crafted from focus-group hissy fits.
For, despite the fact that a lot of the mainstream media long ago decided that Benedict XVI was a non-story (save for when he was being accused, ludicrously, of responsibility for the sexual abuse of the young), the 84-year-old pope has, in six years, established himself as perhaps the world’s premier adult, at least among major international figures. He tells the truth to the roiled worlds of Islam about the imperative of finding Islamic warrants for religious freedom and the separation of religious and political power in a just state. He tells the truth to the United Nations about the irreducible moral core of world politics and economics. He tells the truth to Great Britain about the necessity of nurturing the human ecology that makes democracy possible (and does so in the place where Thomas More was condemned).
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