To understand the style and character of his pontificate it would be better to come to terms with Benedict’s XVI own self-understanding of his purpose and role. He refers to himself as a “professor Pope” thereby alluding to his long and distinguished academic career as a theologian. What makes his theology distinctive is that it has “a somewhat biblical character and also bears the stamp of the Fathers, especially Augustine.” His study of the Church is crucial to his thought but it is primarily with the purpose of “opening a vista onto God,” for it is the mission of the Church to communicate God’s revelation of himself in the person and historical event of Jesus Christ. It is this “theme of Christ, as the living, present God, the God who loves us and heals us through suffering, and, on the other hand, the theme of love” which is the key to approach Christianity. This is why the Gospel of St John became the inspiration for his first papal Encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love). Yet he clarifies that the fundamental impulse throughout his ecclesial life, that which has given it its basic direction, is the desire “to free up the authentic kernel of the faith from encrustations and to give this kernel strength and dynamism.”An essential role of the papal office is, therefore, an evangelical impulse to guard the apostolic word through the facility of memory. “The true meaning of the teaching authority of the pope is that he is the advocate of Christian memory. He does not impose something from the outside but develops and defends Christian memory.”
This desire to protect the faith in the authenticity of its transmission is perhaps best illustrated by referring to an analogy he uses in his own book ‘An Introduction to Christianity.’ It is the story of ‘Clever Hans’ who exchanges a precious lump of Gold (which represents the purity of the Christian faith) in a series of transactions until he exchanges it for something baseless and of no worth. “The lump of Gold that was too heavy and troublesome for him he exchanged successively, so as to become more comfortable, for a horse, a cow, a pig, a goose, and a whetstone, which he finally threw into the water, still without losing much; on the contrary, what he now gained in exchange, so he thought was the precious gift of complete freedom…..And will poor Jack, the Christian who trustingly let himself be led from exchange to exchange, from interpretation to interpretation, not really soon hold in his hand, instead of Gold with which he began, only a whetstone that he can safely be advised to throw away?” This story succinctly demonstrates that the Christian faith in today’s world can easily be seen as a burden and thus far better exchanged for something more convenient and of immediate value, albeit losing its intrinsic and lasting worth in the process.
 Benedict XVI (2010), Light of the World. The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times, Ignatius Press, San Francisco,78.
 Ratzinger, Joseph, Cardinal, (Pope Benedict XVI) (2007 d), Salt of The Earth. The Church at the End of the Millennium. An Interview with Peter Seeward, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 66. In an address to seminarians at Rome’s major seminary in February 2007, he reminisced about his own seminary studies: “I was fascinated from the beginning especially by the figure of St Augustine and then also the school of St Augustine in medieval times, St Bonaventure, the great Franciscans, and the figure of St Francis.” Quoted in Rausch, Thomas P. (2009) Pope Benedict XVI. An Introduction to His Theological Vision. Paulist Press, New York, 41.
 Ratzinger, 2007 d, 65-66.
 Benedict XVI,2010, 102.
 Ratzinger, 2007 d, 79.
 Ratzinger, Joseph, Cardinal, (Pope Benedict XVI) (2006) Values in a Time of Upheaval, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 95.
 Ratzinger, Joseph, Cardinal, (Pope Benedict XVI) (2004) Introduction to Christianity, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 31.