The third anniversary of his election as Pope was marked this week while the Pope visited New York City. The election of Joseph Ratzinger to the office of Bishop of Rome marked the end of an era dominated by a charismatic and extroverted Pontificate with John Paul II and signaled the era of Benedict’s intellectual and quiet introverted sort of personality.

Observers suggested the new Pope would reflect the characteristics of Cardinal Ratzinger, then reported ultra-conservative and traditionally minded. However, since the beginning of his papacy, Benedict XVI has uniquely surprised nearly everyone in his warm and paternal approach towards the Apostolic mission of Saint Peter. Pope Benedict in the short 3 years he has been pope actively but through a quiet demeanor and personal intellectual conviction has called the Church to a new Pentecost.

The results of the New Pentecost are already bearing fruits. In Benedict’s reign, he has acted as the global bridge builder of peace and religious toleration. Initially, most of the world did not understand his intellectual approach to the integration of Catholic theology. His visit to German, for example provided an opportunity for a conflict between Pope and Islamic believers. Benedict however has learned to negotiate the complex world political scene and offer to the world a no compromise but gentle manner of presenting Catholic theology and moral teachings.

The Pope has also been prolific in writing, in the last 3 years; he has produced two encyclicals, Deus Caritas and Spe Salvi, which elaborated on the virtues of love and hope. A third is expected in May 2008. Additionally the Pope has released Summorum Pontificum , restoring the Mass of Blessed John XXIII to global permission for celebration.The Pope also has been quite busy during his reign, travelling on eight major apostolic voyages inside Italy. On the international scene, Benedict so far has undertaken eight foreign apostolic voyages outside of the Vatican, including trips to Turkey, Germany, the United States, and Brazil. The Holy Father is expected to preside at World Youth Day in Australia in July 2008.

The Benedictine papacy continues to unfold with Pope Benedict’s uncompromising call for the Church to renew itself in a sacramental and evangelical manner through belief in Jesus Christ. In New York, the Holy Father illustrated the United Nations the importance of interreligious harmony among all of the world’s great religions. His Papacy has been a strong platform for Catholic international diplomacy and calls the world to a truly global response and proclamation. Most especially, Benedict XVI calls the Church to a rebirth of faith and religious understanding.

Pope Benedict indeed has changed the perceptions of the world regarding the role of the papacy. In three years, he has begun to build new bridges of understanding to many components of the world’s population that have either rejected or ignored the message of the Gospel. Pope Benedict’s pontificate in three years has indicated a vibrant, active and intellectually strong Pope that intents to bring Christ to youth and the rest of the world through his writings and paternal activities.

Hugh McNichol is a Catholic author and journalist that writes on Catholic topics and issues. He writes a daily column: “Nothing Left Unsaid!’ @ http://catholicnewsagency.com & http://verbumcarofactumest.blogspot.com

Hugh is covering the visit of the Holy Father Benedict XVI in Washington and New York for Catholic News Agency. His regular column will resume when Peter returns to Rome.

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