Wednesday, April 20, 2005

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Read The Anchoress, whose thoughts follow very closely with what I wanted to say on the subject.

Also, Joe Gandelman has an incredible round-up of mixed reactions to the Cardinals' choice. Make sure to read that one—it's long, but it's got brief snippets from a wide variety of reactions to Ratzinger's selection. If you read nothing else, go there.

Professor Bainbridge hits Andrew Sullivan pretty hard.

Alexander, a member of the Orthodox Church who often comments on the various goings-on within many different mainstream Christian churches, has some thoughts in response to those so utterly dismayed that this Pope will uphold the traditional teachings of his Church.

I've got a decent amount of work to do today, so I may not have time to post my own thoughts. If you read through The Anchoress and Alexander's posts, though, you'll have a pretty good idea of what I would say.

UPDATE [4/20/2005 - 10:55]: I shouldn't have posted without checking Lileks:

The selection of Ratzinger was initially heartening, simply because he made the right people apoplectic. I'm still astonished that some can see a conservative elevated to the papacy and think: a man of tradition? As Pope? How could this be? As if there this was some golden moment that would usher in the age of married priests who shuttle between blessing third-trimester abortions and giving last rites to someone who�s about to have the chemical pillow put over his face. At the risk of sounding sacreligious: it's the Catholic Church, for Christ's sake! You're not going to get someone who wants to strip off all the Baroque ornamentation of St. Peter's and replace them with IKEA wine racks, okay?
Make sure you read the rest of what he has to say, too. All good stuff.

UPDATE [4/20/2005 - 12:29]: The Weekly Standard has a round-up of quotes from a variety of sources concerning the new Pope. It's amazing how quick the press is to paint the guy with a reactionary brush. Also, Christopher Levenick comments on Benedict XVI's modesty as seen in his speech after the papal selection was complete. I was interested in the fact that he called himself "a simple, humble worker in the Lord's vineyard." Levenick illustrates that this is common throughout Ratzinger's past.

UPDATE [4/20/2005 - 14:25]: I just had a brief meeting with my senior thesis adviser (in my opinion the guru of American politics), who put my thoughts as succinctly as I think is possible: What business is it of the American press to comment on the selection of a Pope? The implied message, of course, is that they are meddling where they don't belong. The media is simply unqualified to offer educated conclusions on Benedict XVI. They can pull in all the priests and theologians and Catholic university professors in the world and still, it's irresponsible and improper for journalists to offer their opinions on the matter.

You'll notice I haven't commented on the Cardinals' selection—that's by design. I'm not Catholic. I pray that he will lead his Church well. I pray that his message of increased unification between the various Churches is meant, as I would like to see a greater communion between the Anglican Churches and the Catholic Church. I hope he inspires more people to follow the way of the cross, and to be truer to the older, deeper threads of Christianity rather than relativistically changing the tenets of Jesus's legacy out of convenience and dedication to modernity. But to judge whether this is the right thing for the Church to do, or whether he is the right man to lead them in these quests is not my place, again, as I am not a Catholic.

I commented somewhere recently that, after the Pope's death, an MSNBC commentator (I honestly don't remember who it was) remarked to Chris Matthews that growing up in the Unitarian Church, he had learned the value of liberal faith, and that he thought the Catholic Church could benefit greatly by opening its doors to the ideas of contraception, female priests, and married priests. I wanted to scream at the TV because of my frustration. This guy wanted, as a Unitarian, to tell the Catholic Church how to manage itself. The whole thing is laughable.

So, if you want my opinions on the selection of Ratzinger, please feel free to email me and I'd be happy to discuss my thoughts with you. But I will not publicize them because I believe this should be an internal Catholic matter. My comments will be restricted to responding to the coverage others give these events, and other similar, superficial matters.

UPDATE [4/20/2005 - 15:15]: I just had one more thought to add—though it may not be the last—does anyone else find it infinitely ironic that the same group of people proclaiming that religion should not be allowed in politics see fit to declare themselves judge and jury for the selection of a Pope? Just doesn't seem right to me...

UPDATE [4/20/2005 - 21:00]: A great little piece comparing Benedict XVI's first appearance in front of a worldwide TV and internet audience with history is up at Tech Central Station.

I'm tired of people condemning the nexus between religion and politics, especially as it concerns the Pope. People seem too quick to forget that the Pope is a Head of State, in addition to being the leader of the Catholic Church—doesn't that make it a little difficult to draw any line between religion and politics? It's all well and good for John Paul II to have condemned and helped bring down communism because everyone now agrees that communism was an evil that needed to be brought down. But when the Pope turns to social issues, he's crossing some sort of firm line between religion and politics? We have to be sure to remember that the US is the first country in history to draw that line, and it was never intended to be as firm as many try to make it today. Anyway, this is all inspired by this Howard Fineman piece.


Alexander said...

As for your thoughts on the relationship between politics and the Church, I don't think it's ironic at all.

People wanted faith to get out of politics because they didn't believe in truth, it seems to me. It was natural for the secularization of politics to coincide with the democratization of politics, as men lost faith in truth and authority and placed it in consensus.

It's also natural for such people to want to meddle with the Church. The French revolutionaries wanted to destroy the Catholic Church and set up a new cult of reason or some such. Statements of a truth outside of time and majorities frighten those whose power comes from sophistry, demagoguery, and a manipulation of the great mass of people.

You might have handed it in already, but best of luck with the senior paper. I waited until two weeks before mine was due to begin work; I really regret that, as I had one of the nation's best classical scholars advise me.

Tanstaafl said...

I'm sorry, I don't understand exactly why commenting or expressing an opinion on what the Catholic Church does is off limits for outsiders. Catholic priests and Cardinals certainly express judgements about how I manage my life. Being a religious organization (even THE religious organization) shouldn't carry any special restrictions, but it doesn't entitle the Catholic Church to any special protection either.

RFTR said...

I have no problem with conversations about the Church in private conversation.

But I absolutely do not believe that it should be a matter of public discourse.