April 19, 2005
The wrong pope
It’s hard to know what to say about the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI. Given an opportunity to choose relevance and reform—or at least continuity—the College of Cardinals instead chose fundamentalism, extremism, divisiveness… and irrelevance. This, remember, is the Cardinal who in 1999, as the Vatican’s guardian of doctrine, ordered an American nun to stop ministering to gays and lesbians in the U.S. The Cardinal who only yesterday stated that:
Having a clear faith, based on the Creed of the Church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism. Whereas, relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and ‘swept along by every wind of teaching’, looks like the only attitude (acceptable) to today's standards. We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires.
“Ratzinger is saying the biggest problem is not issues like poverty, but rather the direct assault on the center of the church and the church's identity,” says Oscar Aguilar, a lay professor at Mexico's Universidad Iberoamericana, a Jesuit university in Mexico City. “They are armor-plating the doctrine.”
And Andrew Sullivan drives the nail home:
What this says to American Catholics is quite striking: it's not just a disagreement, it's a full-scale assault. This new Pope has no pastoral experience as such. He is a creature of theological discourse, a man of books and treatises and arguments. He proclaims his version of the truth as God-given and therefore unalterable and undebatable… For American Catholics, I foresee an accelerating exodus. But that, remember, is the plan. The Ratzingerians want to empty the pews in America and start over. They will, in that sense, be successful.
Depressing—even for us committed heathens.
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