Pope Benedict, 2005-2013 vs. President Obama, 2008-2016
I know, the comparison is hardly equivalent for many reasons:
But given that Benedict was head of a billion-member Church and Obama is head of the world economic and military superpower, maybe the comparison is somewhat appropriate. So how do they (or will they) stack up?
Whose eight-year term will have a greater impact on the world? As far as “the world” is concerned, I can’t imagine Pope Benedict generating much media interest after, say, a year from now. Maybe Obama will go out quietly too, eschewing the “did you forget me yet?” approach of Bill Clinton and Al Gore, but I somehow doubt it. He’s been elevated to god-like status on too many magazine covers to be allowed to recede quietly into the background.
Pope Benedict wants to recede quietly, and has since before he was elected. It sounds like an oxymoron to say that Ratzinger showed great humility in accepting the papacy, since most people consider exercising power to be the ultimate in self-seeking. But Ratzinger’s own choice was to be a scholar and teacher; he set aside his personal desires to serve. If, in his own words, he is too ill to continue then he is a most visible example of demonstrating that “no greater love,” since he laid down his life for us, the Church.
While President Obama will likely pen one or more best-selling memoirs about himself, Pope Benedict’s popular literary legacy will be continuing what St. John the Baptist and our Blessed Mother did: pointing to Jesus of Nazareth. The modern world may not long appreciate Pope Benedict but those in heaven certainly will, especially those whose path there was made easier and more fruitful because of what he did and taught.