Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles (which happens to be my hometown), was one of a few cardinals who sat at the same breakfast table as Cardinal Ratzinger on Tuesday morning, just hours before he was elected Pope. An article in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times offers Mahony's insights on the new Pontiff, specifically how his reputation of being a stubborn hard-liner may give way to a gentler man once he is able to more fully step into his role as Pope. Here are some of his remarks:
On his transition from enforcer of doctrine to Pope: "I think what you're going to see and hear is a very pastoral, spiritual dimension. Remember, he's no longer the chief theologian of the church in that same sense.... He is the chief theologian as being pope."
On why he selected the name Benedict, there are two reasons: "He said, 'I'm going to take Benedict XVI,' but then he went on to explain why, which is very interesting." 1) His namesake, Pope Benedict XV, reigned during World War I. And at the time, "It was the worst scourge of war ever known on the face of the Earth. So he said we still need to be working at peacemaking, reconciliation and harmony around the world." 2) St. Benedict of Nursia, founder of the Benedictine Order, said, "Jesus Christ is first and foremost. Everything else is secondary."
On Ratzinger's theological writings: "He's obviously an extremely intelligent man, renowned theologian, an author who has written books and articles. His spiritual writings you never hear about, but I think you're going to see a lot of that now with him as pope."
On the problems facing the Church in the U.S.: "We, as American Catholics, have to be a little bit more patient, and we have to know the rest of the church better. We really are isolated."
On Pope Benedict XVI's openness to dialog: "[He likes] to listen to other points of view. That's the role of a theologian — to hear other points of view. Those don't frighten him or turn him off.... As a good theologian, if he disagrees with you, he does so in a very pleasant way."
More from the Los Angeles Times:
Mahony acknowledged that Ratzinger had a reputation as uncompromising when it came to adherence to church doctrine. "Everyone who's a public figure in some way always carries a reputation or baggage," Mahony said.
The Los Angeles cardinal said the "spiritual, pastoral side" of the new pope could be revealed to the world as soon as Sunday, when he is to give his first homily as the supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.
Read more (subscription required): Mahony Says the World Soon Will See Pontiff's Pastoral Side