By Phil Lawler | September 16, 2010 – CatholicCulture.org
Pope Benedict has a disconcerting way of hitting nails directly on the head. It's disconcerting, I say, because I struggle and strain to make a point, never satisfying myself that I've made it clearly, and then along comes the Holy Father, and he pounds home the same point in a simple, clear, remark.
For example, in writing The Faithful Departed I tried to explain that when Church leaders seek after public affirmation, they lose focus on the faith, and eventually lose public affirmation as well. To be honest, I've always had trouble summarizing that argument quickly; I have trouble boiling down the message of the book into a single paragraph.
Then today, as he met with the journalists who are accompanying him on his trip to Great Britain, the Pope made the point deftly, clearly-- and quite unexpectedly, I think-- in response to one journalist's question. The question was how the Church could be more attractive to the public. Notice how the Pope, in the very first phrase of his reply (which I emphasize below), steers the conversation off its predictable course to make a more important point:
“I would say that a Church that seeks to be particularly attractive is already on the wrong path, because the Church does not work for her own ends, she does not work to increase numbers and thus power. The Church is at the service of another: she serves, not for herself, not to be a strong body, rather she serves to make the proclamation of Jesus Christ accessible, the great truths and great forces of love, reconciling love that appeared in this figure and that always comes from the presence of Jesus Christ.”
I spent many months, and 264 pages, trying to get at that point. Pope Benedict nailed it down in one stroke with an extemporaneous comment. Disconcerting. But beautiful!