The critics of Pope Benedict XVI fail to mention that Cardinal Ratzinger, a humble scholarly theologian, had no desire to leave his post as Archbishop of Munich-Freising. At the urging of Pope John Paul II, in 1981 he had to accept the appointment of Cardinal-Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the Holy Office of the Inquisition. Likewise, he had no desire of becoming pope, but he had to accept the election by the College of Cardinals.
This harkens back to the legendary Cincinnatus who left his plow when emissaries from the Roman Senate arrived requesting him to assume command in the face of a pressing military threat.
Cincinnatus was a very popular figure among the veterans of the American Revolution, as indicated by the creation of the Society of the Cincinnati. In a famous marble statue, George Washington is depicted as Cincinnatus, with one hand on a plow; and the Minuteman Monument (Embattled Farmer) at the Old North Bridge in Concord has one hand resting on a plow.
At the Connecticut State Armory in Hartford, just to the right of the main entrance, there is a fascinating exhibit dealing with Israel Putnam. An 1886 lithograph depicts Putnam engaged in spring plowing and a horseman with the inscription: "News from Lexington: PUTNAM Leaving the Plow. 'He dared to lead where others dared to follow.'" The exhibit also has a plow that, according to his descendants, Putnam was using when the news arrived. Subsequently, Putnam commanded a company of Connecticut farmers who fought at the battle of Bunker Hill. "Putnam leaving the Plow," sculpted by Hermon A. McNeil in 1917, also appears on the tympanum over the doors on the north side of the State Capitol in Hartford.
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