We are a people of dialogue. As such we have the moral obligation to search for the truth in freedom, the truth about God, about life, about ourselves, our country, our society, our world and the events around us.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

John Paul II and Benedict XVI: The Medium is the Message

It was his personality that attracted people to him. Heads of State, rich and poor, listened to him and respected the values he taught with authority and courage though they did not agree with him. That was John Paul II. And that I believe will be Benedict XVI.

He had special preference for the poor, the abandoned, the sick, the handicapped, even his assailant. In General Audiences, his visits in many countries, his advocacy and letters, were testimonies to his special love for those who have less in life. That was John Paul II. And I believe that will be Benedict XVI.

He allowed the young and children to come near and touch him, kiss him, sing with him and dance with him. He was not afraid to call them to holiness, to self-discipline, to value their dignity as persons loved by God. Never have we seen a man—already old and sickly as he was—yet so full of fire for the young! That was John Paul II. And I believe that will be Benedict XVI although in a different way.

He was a man of peace and reconciliation. A great believer in ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, he called and gathered religious leaders of many and varied faiths to the Vatican and to Assisi to pray for peace. I had the privilege to be with them. He opposed war and capital punishment and other anti-life movements—ever consistent with his pro-life stance. Even those who do the opposite in their countries came to his funeral. That was John Paul II. And I believe that will be Benedict XVI.

The main reason for the attraction is their person, the medium, not their message or teaching. Benedict XVI is a theological giant but very humble, gentle and unassuming. Those who denigrate him do not know the person, only his message. But to me the medium is the message.

Archbishop of Davao
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference

May 1, 2005