One of these friendships is with Randy Coleman-Riese, the Cornerstone Forum executive director. When he was received into the Catholic Church, as a very modest token of my admiration, I gave him a copy of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's Co-Workers for the Truth. He has been kind enough to share with me from time to time passages that he has found especially meaningful or pertinent to matters with which one or the other of us is concerned at the moment. One such passage which he sent a few weeks ago floated to the surface again this morning and struck me as something I would like to share with you by way of a mutual tribute to Randy and to Benedict. In a radio broadcast in 1978, Joseph Ratzinger (who was, I think, an Archbishop at the time) said this:
One who can offer nothing to mitigate the suffering of humanity but the expectation that that suffering will one day come to an end has no answer to the most crucial of all questions. On the contrary, by such an answer he affirms suffering as something entirely meaningless and thereby confers on it its devastating horror. What humanity needs is a community that supports the individual in death as well as in life and can make his suffering meaningful.To be part of such a community -- one comprising both the living and the dead -- and to be blessed with a few of the special friendships it nurtures, is one of the great unearned blessings of life.