It is important as Christians, let alone Roman Catholics, to be well acquainted with your Holy Father, the pope. Our Pope current pope is Benedict XVI. Now I’m sure you might be thinking “Nick, how do you expect me to get to know a man who is miles upon miles away and whom can I only read about?” This is a legitimate question but I believe that there is a way to get to know this holy man even if you will never know him on a personal relationship level.
I think that one of the best ways to get to know the Holy Father is through his writings and interviews. Pope Benedict XVI has written numerous encyclicals and books throughout his career before and during his papacy. These interviews and writings allow all people who have access to them a chance to get to know their Holy Father. Through these materials one can get to know his theology, views, reasoning, personal struggles, and much more. I would highly encourage any and all to get to know their Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI and this is one of the best ways I believe that one can do it.
I have written a little blurb about his first two encyclicals which I think grab an important insight into what Pope Benedict XVI thinks is especially important for the Church and the World to remember and understand.
Deus Caritas Est
This encyclical was written by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 and was his first encyclical. This encyclical is chiefly concerning the idea of God as love. Benedict XVI makes it point of arguing that God is not one of vengeance, anger, apathy, or cruelty but rather a God of love which he uses to draw near to us. He also gives a view of human love as something which is sacred and not to be exploited. Pope Benedict XVI stresses the importance of caring for the other in the most sensual way, implicitly within the confines of the conjugal relationship. Through Deus Caritas Est Benedict XVI seeks to “clarify some essential facts concerning the love which God mysteriously and gratuitously offers to man” (Deus Caritas Est 1).
This encyclical was written two years after Deus Caritas Est and it focuses on the importance and right understanding of Christian faith-based hope. Faith-based hope is a hope which is based on faith, belief, and trust in God whom, as we have discussed, is love. This encyclical specifically calls out mistaken notions of Christian hope which focuses too much on personal eternal salvation or science and/or rationality. Pope Benedict XVI clearly finds that a right understanding of Christian hope is essentially to the progress of the Church.
Pope Benedict XVI by his numerous Catholic books and encyclicals has proven throughout his career and early in his papacy that he is quite the theologian. His writings invite us to not only a deeper and fuller appreciation of our Faith but also a greater knowing of who Benedict XVI and how he understands the Faith. I highly encourage you to read these encyclicals in greater detail online and pick up a book or two of his. Getting to know our Holy Father through literature is a resource that not all Roman Catholics have and therefore we should be sure to appreciate and consider the blessings which make it possible.