A Cautious Man
April 19, 2005
No, it's not what you hear just before a little old lady shouts "Bingo!"
It's apparently an acceptable shorthand reference to Pope Benedict XVI, who became well-known under a different name. I don't know what is going to happen in the next few years, but I don't think I'd be going out on a limb by describing this choice as "interesting".
Think about it. John Paul II was not only Pope for a long time (the only Pope so many adults ever knew), but when he was chosen he was such an unknown to most of us. All we ever real knew of him (outside of some biographical information) and our impressions of the man came from our experience of him as Pope. Benedict XVI may well be the first "modern" Pope, in the sense that the world knew so much about him and his writings, even before he appeared on the balcony today.
So, what does that mean? Well, JPII seemed to serve at least two roles for people. He was the "man in charge" of the Church, of course. But for many others, he seems to have been ethereal, or other-worldly (See anything about him by Peggy Noonan, for instance). Benedict XVI is definitely not that - even tonight, the more orthodox priest/commentator on Fox just kept referring to him as "Cardinal Ratzinger" (consistent with the idea that he's not anyone the world is unfamiliar with). It remains to be seen if we really do know the man, or if his new Office, new responsibility, and new possibilities will surprise us.