30 September 2014

Pope Francis calls Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI "grandfather of grandfathers"

PHOTO: Reuters
On Sunday, His Holiness Pope Francis welcomed His Holiness Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to the encounter with grandparents and the elderly, saying, "I have said many times that it gives me great pleasure that he lives here in the Vatican, because it is like having a wise grandfather at home. Thank you!” He went so far as to refer his predecessor as the "grandfather of grandfathers."

I heard these words with great delight, but others found them a little strange:
Admittedly, it is a little curious, but I, for one, am always happy to hear Pope Francis refer to Benedict XVI as a grandfather, because that is precisely how I have always perceived him to be; he simply seems to be embody everything grandfathers represent (or should). Pope Francis I do not view as a grandfather, but Benedict I do.

What is the difference? I do not precisely know, nor can I say with any great clarity. There is, though, something about the clarity and precision with which Benedict XVI speaks and spoke, something about his quiet and unassuming demeanor, something about the beauty of his smile, something about his commitment to a continuity with the past even while looking forward, that always reminds me of a grandfather. Seen in this light, it isn't so strange for Pope Francis to refer to him as a grandfather, even if he is only nine years older.

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