As prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith got in the way. It was so opposite to who Pope Benedict really is. Whoever has worked with him, whoever has encountered him personally, as we did two weeks ago when we presented the proceedings of the symposium to him, knows that he’s the most humble, most sensitive person. He’s very much aware of who’s in front of him, so he really takes the individual into account. That’s so contrary to the public image of the “panzer cardinal” and so on … a very rigid, conservative person. He has his convictions, but he’s much more open-minded.
He encountered the Jesuit professors here at the Gregorian in 2006, and he made a statement that was so profoundly encouraging to develop theology. I was there in 2008 when he addressed the Jesuit General Congregation members, made up of 220 Jesuits, and some of them were fairly apprehensive.
He gave a brilliant talk which took many of us by surprise because of its openness, and its deep understanding of the needs of the church today. He praised Fr. [Pedro] Arrupe, he praised our work for social justice, he gave credit to the Jesuit Refugee Service, he singled out the pioneering work of dialogue with culture of Matteo Ricci, and he called us to go to the frontiers, acknowledging that going there means being at the edge, in difficulties, and not always having the right answer. It was both deeply consoling and challenging. The public image and the reality are just so different. For instance, bishops with a story of scandals, most of them personal, have been asked to step down. That’s happened in Europe, in Latin America, in Africa, and in other places.