Sunday, April 22, 2012

Benedict and Konrad

So far as I know, no one* has compared the pontificate of Benedict XVI to the chancellorship of Konrad Adenauer, but it struck me this morning that such a comparison is a fruitful one.

[* I discovered late yester-day that my insight is not a new one: Bruce Walker discussed this seven years ago!]

To start with, both men are devout Catholics! - one from Bavaria, one from the Rhineland.  Secondly, both men endured the Nazi dictatorship - Benedict as a young man, Adenauer as a man in his late fifties and sixties.

Thirdly, both men came to high office somewhat unexpectedly, and late in life, after their earlier careers - Benedict had been a university professor prior to his appointment as Archbishop aged 52, followed by his transfer to Rome and lastly his election as Pope aged 78, something quite unexpected (and hardly dared hoped for by many); Adenauer, having had a long career as Mayor of Cologne, could have been expected to enjoy his retirement when Hitler fell (he'd spent the twelve years of the Third Reich narrowly avoiding execution), but instead formed the CDU, chaired the constitutional convention, and then, aged 73, became the first Chancellor of post-war (West) Germany, a post he held until he retired, aged 87.

Adenauer was famously known as Der Alte, "the Old"; he presided over the rebuilding of a shattered nation, and the "economic miracle" that transformed Germany - her economy continues strong to-day.  Many have commented on the grandfatherly quality of our dear Pope; none I've heard have named him Der Alte, but they would be right in saying it, with all the specifically German connotations attached: for Konrad Adenauer remains the best-regarded Chancellor, given all his achievements.

We already see Benedict referred to as the Pope of Christian Unity, given his initiatives to bring back "groups of Anglicans" and, please God, the SSPX.  May Pope Benedict "repair what is shattered, for it sways" (Ps 59(60):4b), that is, rebuild Mother Church, broken as she is by the misdeeds of the past decades: God send him new saints such as St Francis and St Ignatius to assist him.

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