It doesn't seem to have been that long since Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected as Pope by the College of Cardinals. As I have said before, I remember watching the announcement live and saying "Oh no!" to myself when the Cardinal Deacon mentioned his name. I had first heard of him several years before when he was mentioned as "The Pope's Rotweiler", crushing dissent wherever it lay. My main concern was not Ratzinger's convictions (I agreed with about 45% of the concerns he had that I had read about), but rather his way of dealing with it. But then how much of this is down to media hype and spin!
What bothered me initally about his election is that it would further damage relations within the Church. But then God moves in mysterious ways!
One year on, there is no sign of that feared purge against liberalism! If anything he seems to be rather gentle and placid, possible more so than John Paul II. True, he doesn't seem as energetic as his predecessor was at the start of his Pontificate, but then John Paul II was fifty-eight when he was elected Pope and Benedict XVI will be eighty next year, so his lack of official travelling is understandable. He has produced, what was a pleasantly welcoming encyclical, but that is about it.
Let's just watch this space. One isn't asking Benedict to compromise his faith, or indeed his integrity, but one hopes that his Papacy is that of a watchful, but benevolent Uncle, rather than that of a stern and vicious victorian schoolmaster!