Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was very different than his hardline public perception, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, tells Newsmax.
"Not many people, I think, got the opportunity to see the person who is (former Cardinal) Joseph Ratzinger," Cordileone said Monday on "The Chris Salcedo Show." " He was a man of "great gentleness and humility. A good listener, a very witty man and with real pastoral heart, but a brilliant mind of breath and depth of the whole Christian tradition in a way to articulate it in a way that is accessible to everyone."
Benedict inspired a lot of people, especially young people, with his insights into the Catholic faith tradition, Cordileone said.
"It's a sad time, but the time of gratitude as well to God for gifting us with such a brilliant theologian and man who really had a pastoral heart."
Benedict died on Jan. 1 at the age of 95 in a small monastery he had been living in at the Vatican since resigning from the papacy in 2013 for health reasons.
Salcedo noted that for many conservative Catholics Benedict was a staunch defender of the Catholic traditions, Christian faith and morality who led the church through "a pretty tumultuous time."
Cordileone, appointed archbishop by Benedict and bypassed for cardinal by the more liberal Pope Francis, agreed with Salcedo that there is an increasing polarization in the church which mirrors what is happening in society overall.
"But we've been dealing with this for a very long time," he said, and noted that "this is where Benedict was such a great gift to the church, calling us to reread the Second Vatican Council in light of the continuity of the tradition that came before."
Rather than reading Vatican II as a rejection of what came before and changing to the modern world, "instead we needed to reflect seriously and how we can convey this timeless message to a world that's been very much changed," Cordileone said.
"And yes, we have to adapt. We have to hold to this timeless message," he said. "I think there are, there's a legitimate diversity of pastoral approaches, but there's no diversity when it comes to rejecting the message of Christ or adapting it in a way that makes it more comfortable for one to live in this world. It's going to be uncomfortable to live faithful to Christ and the world at any time."
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