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Pontifical We

By Diogenes (articles ) | Apr 21, 2005

Perhaps I've missed discussion of the matter elsewhere, but I was intrigued by the fact that Pope Benedict's first address uses the traditional first personal plural throughout ("In Our soul," not "In my soul"; "We sense within Us," not "I sense within me" -- as in the translations I've seen). Almost inevitably this will be interpreted as a return to an "imperial papacy," &c. -- we can write the editorials ourselves. My own read is precisely the opposite, that Pope Benedict is signaling, "The cult of personality will be minimal. Who I am as Joseph Ratzinger is secondary. To the extent possible I shall try to submerge my ego into the Petrine ministry." Duty, not charm.

On a related subject, there is an exceptionally perceptive analysis of the connection between the personal and the universal in Ratzinger's pre-conclave homily, offered by Tom Kreitzberg at Disputations.

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Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: John J Plick - Apr. 22, 2005 9:10 PM ET USA

    So, CWN REFUSES to translate the papal texts correctly even though they know better? To that extent you are part of the problem.

  • Posted by: Pablo71 - Apr. 22, 2005 6:51 PM ET USA

    Diogenes, I had the same immediate reaction while (trying to) read the homily in the original Latin. However, when I saw the Italian translation given by the Vatican didn't use the "we", I checked the Vatican website for some of JP2's Latin texts, and they all use "we" too. It seems that the Holy Father, when speaking in the vernacular, uses "I".

  • Posted by: Rex Aldrich - Apr. 22, 2005 12:15 AM ET USA

    Commentators have been describing Pope Benedict XVI's reign as "a transitional papacy." Why do I get the distinct impression that Pope John Paul II's reign--despite its length--will come to be known as the "transitional" one?

  • Posted by: - Apr. 21, 2005 9:34 PM ET USA

    With the NY Times Maureen Dowd, Barbra Streisand and their ilk disparaging our new Pope; I thank God for giving us this good man. We know he is a true Catholic; God bless this good man!

  • Posted by: - Apr. 21, 2005 1:37 PM ET USA

    Pope John Paul also used the first person plural in his magisterial writings; see, for example, Fides et Ratio and Rosarium Virginis Mariae on the Vatican Web site. Sadly, those responsible for translating the late pontiff's works did not translate Nos and Noster accurately as "We" and "Our," but rather as "I" and "my."

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