Five years ago today, on March 13, 2013, I was about to go out to the store early in the afternoon, but paused to look at the news to find out what was going on with the conclave — and ended up live-blogging the election of Pope Francis. The ensuing five years has been a real roller-coaster ride. And I have been blogging it all the way.
There is, naturally, a tone of commentary today, but the one I most wish people would read is the one by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He wrote it in reply to Msgr. Dario Vigano, Prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for Communications, in response to his gift of a set of just-released volumes on the theology of Pope Francis. He writes about the critics of Pope Francis and his own:
I applaud this initiative that seeks to oppose and react to the foolish prejudice according to which Pope Francis would only be a practical man devoid of particular theological or philosophical formation, while I would have been only a theoretician of theology who understood little of the concrete life of a Christian today.
These small volumes rightly show that Pope Francis is a man of profound philosophical and theological formation and they help [people] therefore to see the internal continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences of style and temperament.
God bless dear Pope Benedict! Attention to all Pope Francis critics who look to Benedict’s papacy as a nostalgic touchstone. He doesn’t agree with you.
Update: March 20: I originally wrote this in great haste, and had noted something odd about Sandro Magister’s comments in the last link, but didn’t have time to comment on it. He implied that Benedict’s “ironic” comments that followed, about not having read the volumes thoroughly and therefore being unable to write a more detailed analysis were somehow supposed to mean that Benedict was not actually giving any endorsement of Pope Francis — for those who know how to read between the lines! This has been seized on by so many people who ought to know better — and by Raymond Arroyo on EWTN, who I’m no sure knows better at all. His attacks on Pope Francis lately have been disgraceful.
Here is a good post/article by Dave Armstrong, who I believe hits the nail on the head.