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At the Vatican, he preferred to appoint men he trusted blindly and some of his early appointments were controversial.
He chose Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who had worked with him for years in the Vatican’s doctrinal office, to be Secretary of State even though Bertone had no diplomatic experience.
One of the themes he often returned to was the threat of relativism, rejecting the concept that moral values are not absolute but relative to those holding them.
“We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism, which does not recognise anything as definitive and has as its highest value one’s own ego and one’s own desires,” he said in a homily at John Paul’s funeral, which many believed convinced his brother cardinals to vote for him in the conclave that followed.
TURNING BACK THE CLOCK
His critics saw many of his actions as attempts to turn back the clock on reforms enacted by the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council, which modernised the Church and encouraged inter-religious dialogue.
He made it easier for married Anglican priests, upset that their church was becoming too liberal, to convert to Catholicism.
Benedict wrote three encyclicals – the most important form of papal document. His first, “Deus Caritas Est” (God is Love) in 2006, was about the various concepts of love, both erotic and spiritual.
The 2007 “Spe Salvi” (Saved by Hope), was an attack on atheism and an appeal to a pessimistic world to find strength in Christian hope. The 2009 Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), called or a re-think of the way the world economy is run.