The NEWSWEEK 50: Pope Benedict XVI

American Catholics in particular, still bruised by the sex-abuse scandals of 2002, regarded the current pope's election in 2005 with suspicion and worse. They feared that Joseph Ratzinger (known to some as "God's Rottweiler," John Paul II's theological enforcer) would turn out to be a my-way-or-the-highway kind of guy. But Benedict XVI's U.S. visit earlier this year—his first as pope—bolstered one of his most traumatized flocks and added immeasurably to his stature. He came off as empathic, gentle, direct. He addressed the sex scandal not once but repeatedly—finally in a tearful private meeting with a small group of victims. Having convinced the world of his remorse, Benedict next year will travel to Jerusalem, where he will have to perform a delicate dance: welcoming interfaith debate while affirming his belief that the events described in the Gospels are real and his is the One True Church. (Story continued below...)