As Benedict XVI relinquishes the papacy, much of the non-Catholic world has to admit they have seldom heard him speak directly to them in a language they could understand. He is not John Paul II. Benedict's heavy German accent, his advanced age and his more restrained personality -- certainly more restrained than the actor and poet John Paul II -- have made him difficult for outsiders to understand.
Still it is an art of living to hear wisdom in the mouths of those with whom we disagree -- even in the mouths of our enemies. Consider then, in the final days of this pope, a short compilation of his more trenchant statements. Some of these are insights into the modern world. Some are barbs. Some are descriptions of the forces tearing at the Roman Catholic Church, indeed tearing at Christianity in our age. All are worth pondering as Benedict XVI leaves the global stage.