April 19, 2005

Habemus Papam!

God has given us Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new Pope Benedict XVI.

He was elected in only four ballots, which tells me that the Cardinals are pretty firmly united behind him. I also cannot help but suspect that this is the man who John Paul the Great would have chosen as his successor.

As I expected, Joseph Ratzinger did not choose to be called John Paul III. I had a funny feeling that Benedict would be the choice, and have said so repeatedly over the last few days. Many are linking him to the shy Pope Benedict XV, who tried so hard to end World War I. I think another model to consider would be Benedict XIV, who was concerned about the accommodation of Christian truth to the practices of non-Christian cultures.

I find the new pontiff’s words to the faithful inspiring and appropriate. Pope Benedict, for all his gigantic intellect, remains a humble man of deep spirituality.

"Dear brothers and sisters, after our great pope, John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble worker in God's vineyard.

I am consoled by the fact that the Lord knows how to work and how to act, even with insufficient tools, and I especially trust in your prayers.

In the joy of the resurrected Lord, trustful of his permanent help, we go ahead, sure that God will help, and Mary, his most beloved mother, stands on our side.

Thank you."

We shall see how this papacy will develop. Will he be a pope in the image of John Paul the Great? Or will he be something completely different?

Update: I commented on the London Times piece on Pope Benedict’s youth in Nazi Germany. His detractor’s are already making scurrilous comments about him in relation to his brief – and legally mandated – membership in the Hitler Youth and military service. The Jerusalem Post provides some excellent insight into the issue – and also the important work of this pope in his predecessor’s reconciliation with the Jewish faith.

|| Greg, 05:00 PM || Permalink || Comments (2) || Comments

Comments on Habemus Papam!

Actually, his words, that you quote above, came across to me as pompous and full of false humility.

I suspect that he's going to continue to alienate American Catholics, and without the benefit of John Paul's warm and magnetic personality, the damage will be greater and the rift will row wider.

Most American Catholics that I know admired John Paul while still disagreeing with many of his policies, and genuinely feel no compunction about disregarding them. Specifically, the Church positions on ordination of women and on use of birth control. I and several of my classmates were servers during the Mass when I was in high school, and the world did not end because girls served at Mass. And anyone who refuses to advocate the use of condoms when they can prevent AIDS infections in the third world deserves to be held accountable for all the deaths they have caused.

No, I am not a fan of the Catholic church, for I think they have become rotten to the core at the highest levels. People of intelligence in North America and Europe are moving farther and farther away from them, and once the Third World countries begin to gain in both economic status and personal wealth, you will begin to see the same pullng-away. Until and unless the Catholic Church is willing to change, people of intelligence and conscience will continue to reject Church teachings such as these, while still holding fast to the core teachings of God and Jesus. It will be an even greater split of personality within the Church itself, until Church leadership can no longer ignore it.

|| Posted by Claire, April 20, 2005 10:42 AM ||

Claire -- the only problem with the position you have taken here is that you are advocating that the Catholic Church quit being Catholic.

The women's ordination issue is pretty well a closed topic, theologically speaking. So are birth control and homosexuality. Changing course on them would require such a fundamental re-writing of fundamental doctrines and dogmas that there would be no certainty left regarding what it taught. What would be left that differentiated it from the lukewarm remants of the Episcopal Church and most of the rest of mainline Protestantism? You may have a point about condomns for AIDS tucked in there amongst the inflamatory rhetoric, though. And as for the issue of altar girls, it was dealt with some years ago, and was a matter of changing a human-made rule, not a divine mandate.

I hate to raise the implicit slur in the last paragraph -- ". . . people of intelligence and conscience will continue to reject Church teachings. . . ." -- but I cannot simply let it pass. I know it is fashionable for self-proclaimed "intellectuals" to presume their superiority over those who take religious faith seriously, but given that this rejectionism deprives you of any foundation upon which to build a moral framework, how can you make such a judgement? It seems mighty intolerant to me.

|| Posted by RhymesWithRight, April 20, 2005 03:03 PM ||
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