Right off the bat, Pope Benedict XVI said some controversial things about Islam and its contribution. And it definitely rubbed me the wrong way; would Pope John Paul II have made such remarks? How could those words help bring together the two faiths? As it turns out, in my view, those were not relevant questions to be asking of this Pope. He is not Pope John Paul II, and he is likely not interested in bringing together the two faiths. In fact, some of his actions could be taken as "hostile" to any attempt at reconciliation between the faiths, and that just seems wrong, doesn't it?
Not necessarily. First and foremost, this Pope (judging by his spoken and written words, which are voluminous both before and during his Papacy) seems to be extremely well-read and well-versed in not just Catholicism, not just Christianity, but also Judaism. He cites Christian, Jewish, and Muslim thinkers in his work, and does so in a thoughtful, even admiring manner. The levels he delves into regarding the thought processes of other scholars and of the writers of bible are truly astounding, seeming to encompass several lifetimes worth of study and thought on the subjects. In his view, it's probably not necessary to reconcile faiths; in his mind, their is only one true catholic and apostolic way, and it is the way of the Church. The others are really not of interest to him, outside of what they can lend to his understanding of his own faith (in the case of the Old Testament) and he does not always take great care to hide that lack of reverence for other traditions. Can he be faulted for this? Here is a man who does all he can to understand what is of the greatest importance to him and to mankind, including considering all sources of knowledge and exegesis, yet who is not humbled by viewpoints outside of the Church, since to him they are of little consequence.
As different from John Paul II as he comes across, I must conclude that both men were/are true and worthy leaders of the Church, and I cannot help but embrace both of their styles and efforts for what they are and what they represent. It does present some difficulty for me, being a person of excessive reconciliatory nature, to take a path that does not encompass all - but the exclusion is not my choice, it is theirs. I will treat with respect, benevolence, and even love, all of those who will have it, regardless of belief or religious views; however, I continue to believe what I believe in matters of faith in God and His only Son and the tradition and authority of the Church as handed down by Jesus of Nazareth and established by Peter and Paul after the death and Resurrection, and this belief says that while I can and will enjoy my time with a multitude of "different believers," I am none too confident in how things are going to work out for them when their time on earth is through. Their choice, not mine.