Why Pope Benedict Matters to Me

His Holiness Benedict XVI

His Holiness Benedict XVI

In all the drama of Thursday’s farewell to Pope Benedict XVI, and amidst all the high level comment, intellectual analysis and historical accounting of his legacy, here are the very personal reasons why Benedict mattered to me.

  1. He granted the dispensation from the vow of celibacy that opened the door for my ordination as a Catholic priest.
  2. He established the Anglican Ordinariate. While I am not a priest in the Ordinariate, I have great interest in the Ordinariate and its progress. I believe history will show Benedict XVI to have been a revolutionary pope when it comes to ecumenism–showing new ways for Christians to come into full communion with the Holy See.
  3. He showed the way of truly Christian Biblical scholarship. He did not reject the findings of modern Biblical critics as fundamentalists do, nor did he adopt modernism and promote it. Instead was truly Catholic in his approach. He gleaned from all Biblical scholars what was true and good, and he also rejected that which was inconsistent, heretical, merely theoretical and unsubstantiated. His Biblical scholarship was thorough and erudite, yet fully within the Magisterium of the church.
  4. He turned upside down the media’s stupid portrayal of him as “God’s Rotweiller.” Almost immediately after his election that slur vanished as he revealed himself to be just what he said he was, “a humble worker in the Lord’s vineyard.” He showed the world that he was a gentle, scholarly, quiet man who did not avoid the onerous duties laid upon him by the Lord.
  5. Benedict XVI took the name Benedict. I have loved St Benedict for a long time and seek to follow him in what humble way I can as a Benedictine oblate. When he took the name “Benedict” I immediately felt a connection with him. He was not only they holy father, but a kind of universal abbot. Now that he has retired to the monastic life it all seems a perfect ending.
  6. He visited England and the United States. My heart is in both lands, and to witness his visit to both countries drew me closer to him and his courageous ministry.
  7. He beatified Bl. John Henry Newman. Nuff said.
  8. He taught the “hermeneutic of continuity” reminding us that the second Vatican Council did not overturn centuries of tradition, but renewed them and brought them forward with new meaning and insight and relevance. He was not ashamed, in his dress and liturgical style to renew the liturgy by drawing on its deep roots in the past.
  9. He managed to combine a contemplative, inward gazing personality with an active and dynamic papacy. He showed the world that quiet men can be leaders too, and that “in quietness and confidence is much strength.”
  10. He wore those red shoes.



Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the author of “Listen My Son” – a commentary on the Rule of St Benedict for families. Visit Fr. Dwight’s website to buy a copy here.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. He is author of thirteen books on the Catholic faith. Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing is available in Catholic bookshops and through his website: dwightlongenecker.com

Visit Fr. Longenecker on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/frlongenecker

Sign up for Fr. Longenecker’s free weekly newsletter FaithWorks! which gives practical advice on the practice of the Catholic faith.


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About the Author

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. He conducts parish missions, retreats and speaks at conferences across the USA.

His latest book is The Romance of Religion - Fighting for Truth, Goodness and Beauty. Visit his blog, listen to his radio show, and browse his books at dwightlongenecker.com.

Catechesis teaches us what to believe and how to behave, but Catholics also need down to earth advice for putting their faith into action. For help in your practice of the Catholic faith sign up for FaithWorks! -- Fr Longenecker's free, weekly newsletter on the practical practice of the Catholic faith.

Visit Fr. Longenecker on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/frlongenecker.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is an American who has spent most of his life living and working in England. Fr Dwight was brought up in an Evangelical home in Pennsylvania. After graduating from the fundamentalist Bob Jones University with a degree in Speech and English, he went to study theology at Oxford University. He was eventually ordained as an Anglican priest and served as a curate, a school chaplain in Cambridge and a country parson.

Realizing that he and the Anglican Church were on divergent paths, in 1995 Fr. Dwight and his family were received into the Catholic Church. He spent the next ten years working as a freelance Catholic writer, contributing to over twenty-five magazines, papers and journals in Britain, Ireland and the USA.

Fr. Dwight is the editor of a best-selling book of English conversion stories called The Path to Rome - Modern Journeys to the Catholic Faith. He has written Listen My Son - a daily Benedictine devotional book which applies the Rule of St Benedict to the task of modern parenting. St Benedict and St Thérèse is a study of the lives and thought of two of the most popular saints.

In the field of Catholic apologetics, Fr. Dwight wrote Challenging Catholics with John Martin, the former editor of the Church of England Newspaper. More Christianity is a straightforward and popular explanation of the Catholic faith for Evangelical Christians. Friendly and non-confrontational, it invites the reader to move from 'Mere Christianity' to 'More Christianity'. Mary-A Catholic Evangelical Debate is a debate with an old Bob Jones friend David Gustafson who is now an Evangelical Episcopalian.

Fr. Dwight’s Adventures in Orthodoxy is described as ‘a Chestertonian romp through the Apostles’ Creed.’ He wrote Christianity Pure&Simple which was published by the Catholic Truth Society in England and Sophia Institute Press in the USA. He has also published How to Be an Ordinary Hero and his book Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing was published by Our Sunday Visitor in May 2008. His latest books are The Gargoyle Code - a book in the tradition of Screwtape Letters and a book of poems called A Sudden Certainty, Adventures in Orthodoxy and The Romance of Religion.

Fr. Dwight has contributed a chapter to the third volume of the best selling Surprised by Truth series and is a regular contributor to Crisis Magazine, St Austin Review, This Rock, Our Sunday Visitor and National Catholic Register. Fr. Dwight has also written a couple of children’s books, had three of his screenplays produced, and is finishing his first novel. He’s working on a book on angels and his autobiography: There and Back Again.

In 2006 Fr. Dwight accepted a post as Chaplain to St Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville, South Carolina. This brought him and his family back, not only to his hometown, but also to the American Bible belt, and hometown of Bob Jones University. In December 2006 he was ordained as a Catholic priest under the special pastoral provision for married former Anglican clergy. He is the Administrator of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina, and an oblate of Belmont Abbey.

Fr. Dwight enjoys movies, blogging, books, and visiting Benedictine monasteries. He’s married to Alison. They have four children, named Benedict, Madeleine, Theodore and Elias. They live in Greenville, South Carolina with a black Labrador named Anna, a chocolate lab called Felicity, cat named James and various other pets.

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