Count me as the founder of a new group ready to promote the candidacy of one man in the unprecedented papal conclave this March: Joseph Ratzinger.
Call it the Committee to Re-Elect Joseph Ratzinger.
I've looked over the other candidates, and for the same reason the Church's elders so swiftly elected Cardinal Ratzinger in April of 2005, I'd like to see him elected again.
The Church needs a kind but firm hand at the top, a truly independent thinker and man of action who "surprises all sides" of political and Church debates.
The sort of man who had the courage to suspend a leading priest known in the Vatican corridors of power as a child-abusing con man: "Father Maciel" of Legionaries of Christ fame.
The sort of man who had the guts to re-establish in Church law the right of all priests to use a ritual rooted in more than a millennium of practice, and to declare that priests "do not need to ask permission" of their bishop to celebrate such Latin Masses.
The sort of man who sits down to a meal with his butler on slow days.
The sort of man who against pressure from the media and from inside the Church itself made repeated attempts--knowing they might fail and that he might look bad--to reconcile with a group of traditionalist Catholics who refused to give up the old ways and even occupied a church in Paris to make their point.
The sort of man who forged ahead with a stalled, but potentially big, rapproachment with conservative Anglicans at sea after decades resisting trends in their church to secularization and accomodation of gay rights.
The sort of bold flexible mind who brought the Catholic Church to within inches of historic diplomatic breakthroughs...challenged Muslims to find a way to express their religion without violence...and even--perish the thought--appointed a Vatican secretary of state who did not speak English.
P.S. Personal to Pope Ratzinger: your mistakes included watching too much TV News...undertaking to prove that the Church was up to speed Web-wise...those energy-sapping foreign trips...and, definitely, sharing meals with your butler.
Nevertheless, Your Holiness, we forgive you. Come back. We should have said it more these nearly-eight years: we need you.
Roger A. McCaffrey
Roman Catholic Books