A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Benedict XVI

As a Catholic by association, I admit that the selection of a new pope has been intriguing. When John Paul II was chosen back in '79, I was all of 10 and probably wouldn't have cared too much even if I had been Catholic. The AP calls Ratzinger "rigorously conservative" and notes that he is a controversial figure in his homeland of Germany. Andrew Sullivan, who is and always has been Catholic, goes further, labeling him "The Grand Inquisitor" in reference to his former position as the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, which was the Office of the Holy Inquistion prior to 1908. Sullivan believes Ratzinger's selection to be the start of a major effort to neuter or eliminate the reformists in the Church.

It seems safe to say that Ratzinger is conservative and against most, if not all, of the reforms favored by the majority of clergy in the U.S. No female priests under Benedict XVI, methinks, and I doubt the sexual abuse scandal will get the proper airing it deserves. Both of which are unfortunate. Ratzinger is also an accomplished pianist. Though whether he prefers Beethoven or Mozart depends on whether you are reading the NY Times report or the AP's.

For a slightly different take on the new Pope's biography, you may wish to go here, and for a different perspective on Ratzinger's orthodoxy, you should probabaly read this. And through it all, remember that the Catholic Church is a global community, one that must respond to its adherents in South America and Africa and Asia as well as Europe and America.
I am very excited about the election of Benedict XVI. Ratzinger's job was to point out to people what the Church teaches. As the pope, his job is to pass on what is called the deposit of faith. It is neither liberal nor conservative; it is what it is. There are those who take issue with that faith and want to change what has been handed down from the Apostles. They will be forever disappointed because the pope does not have the authority to do this. During Vatican II, during which Ratzinger and Wojtyla were arguably the most important contributors, they were considered liberals. Andrew Sullivan will have to realize that the Church does not exist to accommodate his personal views of sexual morality.

I would be careful about reading too much commentary in the MSM about what the majority of clergy believe or favor. Maybe in the Archidiocese of Milwaukee a majority favor the ordination of women, but not in my diocese of Arlington, Virginia. The question is moot anyway as JPII already decided the question and stated definitively that the Church had no such authority to ordain women.

Regarding your earlier post about how much esteem to give the pope, an unelected official, I am hopelessly biased. I would raise one point, though. I think you can attain a position of power without being elected and still gain respect. Many people in the government are appointed to a position, and have risen to that job through hard work and ability. Many combine these talents with political acumen, but this is not to say that there are some very gifted people who have risen based on their smarts and accomplishments. These people are deserving of some respect. I think the pope is one of these people. He is elected by a very few people, but he didn't get there because of his last name or who is father is. Interesting question.
The new pope is 78....and reform happens slowly in the Catholic Church. I see this as a transitional compromise choice. Those in favor of reform hope he will die quickly and then they can make the move to someone who can/will affect major change
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