Critics Say Pope Needs to Refocus on Interfaith Efforts

September 20, 2006

Source: The Baltimore Sun,0,6467396.story

On September 20, 2006 The Baltimore Sun reported, "When Pope Benedict XVI was elected almost 18 months ago, some people within and outside the Roman Catholic Church predicted that his background would shift the papacy away from the interfaith outreach that was the legacy of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. They say the flap over Pope Benedict's comments regarding Islam and the Prophet Muhammad support their predictions and illustrate the need for him to recognize that he has grown from high-ranking Vatican official to the dominant face of the Catholic Church. 'I think his problem is that he's a German academic who hasn't realized yet he's a pope,' said the Rev. Thomas J. Reese of the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. 'There's certain things that an academic can say and have intellectual, unemotional discussions of. ... He's an extremely bright man, but he doesn't have any street smarts.' Before becoming pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger focused on protecting Christianity as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a position in which he became known as a hard-line enforcer of church orthodoxy. 'He's not as political or diplomatic as was John Paul II,' said Frank J. Coppa, a professor of history at St. John's University in New York. 'He's more theologically oriented than he is diplomatically oriented.'"