Some media reports following the announcement of the new Pope rolled out ready-made stereotypes of the man, portraying him as an inflexible authoritarian. Other reports, especially in the British media, were obsessed by the idea of a German Pope who had lived his teen years under the Nazi regime.
However, a number of personal testimonies published this week reveal an entirely different personality....The archbishop spoke of a man of "great humanity, a lover of nature and of music." Cardinal Bertone also testified to Cardinal Ratzinger's openness and simplicity in dealing with people, and how over the years in Rome he has formed friendships with many people.
....British journalist Charles Moore, writing in Wednesday's Telegraph, described a meeting with Cardinal Ratzinger some years ago. Three things impressed Moore about the prelate. First, "his embarrassing courtesy." Moore recounted how the cardinal carefully read an article he had brought with him in which the journalist described his conversion to Catholicism.
The second striking point was Cardinal Ratzinger's intellectual curiosity: "He was not a man living in the past, but rather one tackling with a civilized and clear mind the new challenges of human thought." The third characteristic was the cardinal's open manner and willingness to answer any question put to him.
And another journalist, David Quinn, writing in Tuesday's Irish Independent, described a meeting with Cardinal Ratzinger some 10 years ago. The cardinal dedicated an hour to his questions. "During that time he was courtesy itself, entirely gracious and patient with my questions," said Quinn.....
....And the archbishop of New York, Cardinal Edward Egan, recalled how some years ago Cardinal Ratzinger took the time to personally wish him well before he became an archbishop. "'He is a very lovely and loving person," Cardinal Egan said. "I think you're going to like him very much."
...Father Frauenlob described Benedict XVI as "a subtle thinker with a deep understanding of Catholic tradition and a personal touch he's not often given credit for."
An example of this was how Cardinal Ratzinger quickly agreed to perform the seminary's 2003 confirmation service when no other bishop was available. He swiftly agreed to come, confirming the 14 boys and taking time to speak personally to each one after the ceremony.