Father JAMES V. SCHALL, S.J. on Pope Benedict XVI:
The Catholic Church has been particularly blessed in that most of the modern popes have also been, at the same time, men of mind, men who have known the intellectual background and intricacies of classical, medieval, and modern thought. Of these, Josef Ratzinger is no doubt the best prepared of them all. We saw in John Paul II a public figure who was also a major thinker in his own right. We will see this even more so in Benedict XVI.

A pope is more than a thinker, to be sure. But much of the confusion in the modern world, including thinking about morality, lies, at bottom, in the ideas that shape it. John Paul II was clearly a man of soul and heart, as well as mind. Much to our surprise, we will find that Benedict XVI will prove the same, but in his own personal and warm way.

By instruction and example, he will immediately address himself to liturgy, perhaps the area most in need of attention. This is probably why he took the name "Benedict." His book, The Spirit of the Liturgy, is a good guide here. Indeed, if we read him, we will see that he has long thought about most of the crucial issues of the modern mind and the relation of Catholicism to it. He certainly has thought about Europe and the faith, or its loss there.

John Paul II probably had only one weakness. He was no doubt the greatest man of our time or perhaps of any time. But he did not like to rule or administer the Church in detail. In a way, who would, in the sense of careful selection of bishops and members of high offices? I think Benedict XVI will be much more demanding and careful that those who are appointed to high and priestly office both know and live up to what the Church specifically teaches about revelation and its relation to the human mind. The papacy under Benedict XVI, will remain at the center of world attention, we can be sure of that.

Father JAMES V. SCHALL, S.J. on Pope John Paul II:
The St. Paul Editions' collection of John Paul II's first major trip, to Puebla in Mexico, in January, 1979, contains a charming photo of the handsome new pope. He is wearing a Mexican cowboy hat, smiling, carrying a cute four year-old local girl.

We suspected it would be different.

Karol Wojtyla then goes into the Basilica of Guadalupe, where Mexican clergy were assembled. "You are priests and religious," he told them. "You are not social or political leaders or officials of a temporal power."

We suspected it would be different.

On the 40th anniversary of Vatican II's Gaudium et Spes, (March 2005), the dying pope wrote to the Pontifical Commission on Justice and Peace: "The theme of justice does not exhaust the social doctrine of the Church. The virtue of love that leads to forgiveness and reconciliation and motivates Christian commitment to justice must never be forgotten. It nevertheless remains unquestionable that the topic of justice is the basis for 'the right ordering of human society.'"

Not by justice alone are we saved, though not without it.

It was different. That we now know.

— Father James V. Schall, S. J., is a professor of government at Georgetown University. He is author of, among other books, Another Sort of Learning.