By Carl Anderson
NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, 12 APRIL 2010 (ZENIT)
In early April,
the German Magazine Der Spiegel weighed into the recent attacks
on the Church with the following headline: "The Failed Papacy of
Failed papacy? Not by a long shot.
Even by this world's standards, the papacy of Pope Benedict has
been remarkable. He has led the Church forward with a focus on
engaging the culture around us with love. His two encyclicals on
charity, his encyclical on hope, and his letter on the Eucharist
Christ at the center of our faith
have taken us back to the most basic and profound message of
faith, hope and charity. Benedict's Christianity is the
Christianity of the Beatitudes.
The reason some see a "failed papacy" is that they want to see
just that. Too many in Europe want to see this papacy fail
any papacy fail
because the Church stands counter to their secularist agenda.
What some cannot tolerate is the vision articulated in Pope
Benedict's most recent encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate," in
which the pope reminds us: "Without God man neither knows which
way to go, nor even understands who he is" (No. 78).
This week we will hear the Gospel proclaimed in which Christ
asks Peter, "Do you love me?" And Peter replies that he does.
But he can only reply that he does because Christ has loved him
first. The secularist turns his back on God’s love. He refuses
Christ’s invitation to love him in return.
We should remember that the two great commandments of Christ are
to love God wholeheartedly
and our neighbor as ourselves. The first must lead to the
second. But eliminate the first commandment
love of God
and the execution of the second
love of neighbor
will be unable to fulfill its promise.
The dream of the utopian secular society is a dream at best.
In "Caritas in Veritate," Pope Benedict reiterated his point
from "Deus Caritas Est"
that no state would ever be so perfect as to eliminate the need
for charity. He wrote: "When animated by charity, commitment to
the common good has greater worth than a merely secular and
political stand would have." (No. 7)
The idea that solutions to the world's problems are to be found
in the Gospel not in secularism has long been a theme of this
pope. He has consistently maintained that the Church is
different from secular society in that it does not seek a
political messiah, but calls people to constant conversion.
A society that has no room for God
and the media outlets of such a society
also appear to have no room for this message, and so some have
attacked the messenger, grasping at any straw to discredit him.
The Pope who has called us to charity in truth, who warned us
that the economy would collapse if religious values were
excluded from the marketplace, who did so much to address and
put right the actions of those priests who have caused scandal
this man has been targeted, because he believes that we can only
authentically love our neighbor if we have first allowed God to
no matter how often it is proven correct by circumstance
is something that some secular minds just cannot tolerate. So
there is a rush to judgment, a jumping to conclusions, an
attempt to discredit the pope.
The champion of charity in truth has received neither charity
nor truth at the hands of too many in the media.
There is a culture of suspicion against the Catholic Church
today in which virtually any accusation is given credibility by
the critics of the Church, while no amount of explanation in
defense of the Church seems to be sufficient.
How else to explain the media frenzy now against the man who has
done more than almost anyone else to deal effectively with those
who abuse children?
The Holy Spirit will continue to lead Pope Benedict to the great
work we have come to know him for, for his great witness to the
love of Christ.
It is up to us today to follow our pope’s witness. We must stand
with Pope Benedict and say yes to Christ’s love, and then bring
that love to our neighbor, to our society. We must evangelize by
The poor witness of a few
their manipulation and abuse rather than love
have been seized upon by some trying to discredit the authentic
Christian message and way of life. This is why scandal is so
harmful, but also why our witness today is so important.
Speaking in 2000, Cardinal Ratzinger said that the art of living
“can only be communicated by one who has life
he who is the gospel personified.”
We must be that gospel personified, and in saying yes to
Christ’s love, and yes to loving Christ, we must then extend
authentic charity in truth to our neighbor. Then the world will
see that we are Christians by the way we love one another
and the way we will love one another will be the way we were
first loved by God.
* * *
Carl Anderson is the supreme knight of the Knights of
Columbus and a New York Times bestselling author.