Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States has caused quite a stir in the media and conversation, as the great pontiff came and gave speeches, held meetings, and led services. But how do we as Christians, as Protestants, as Adventists, react to the momentous occasion? When the mass Masses are all said and done, what do we say or think?
Certainly we cannot dismiss the Pope and all Catholics out of hand. Cardinal Ratzinger, as the Pope was formerly known, has certainly done much as a theologian to intellectually defend the Christian faith against the perils of post-modernism and relativism. And the issues he attempted to address (on a more general scale) during his visit—secularization, the spiritlessness of the Church, ecumenicalism—are not ones that are not irrelevant to us, though they be with a different focus.
As for me, I’ve watched the immense visit of the so-called “Vicar of Christ” as an almost disinterested outsider. I did not spend too much time listening to what he was here for or what he said, but I did laugh at some Daily Show and Colbert Report jokes. Should I have given it more thought? How do we interact with Catholics concerning this visit of a man we might consider blasphemous? How do we react to calls for ecumenicalism, keeping our firm commitment to the doctrine we hold to be the Truth? What do we do with his ideas and teachings about God and Christianity, which might well be profitably listened to and applied?