Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Implications 

Great to have Tresy back!

The Pope is dead. Long live the Pope. What struck me yesterday was the number of commenters at various places around the net who reacted with brittleness at bloggers' posts critical of Ratzinger, even posts which were fairly mild. But what a number of those commenters seemed to forget was that the Catholic Church is made up of many different voices, and not all of them held the same view of the development, as the NYTimes observed:
"Some liberal Catholics and interest groups criticized the choice as a lost opportunity to move the church in a less doctrinaire direction because the new pope, a conservative German who was close to the late John Paul II, has long held hard-line positions on many divisive issues, including birth control, homosexuality and the ordination of women. He has also suggested that a vote for a politician who supports abortion rights could be sinful, and that American bishops should deny such politicians Holy Communion.
With no less fervor, many conservative Catholics praised Benedict as a strong leader whom they expected to shore up the church's teachings and serve as a formidable steward of traditional values. Some expressed hopes that the new pope would again require that Latin be spoken at Mass."
One of the most revealing sources of background on Ratzinger, which offers an insight into why the liberals in the church were so disheartened, is this 1999 article from The National Catholic Reporter, which had this to say:
"At the most basic level, many Catholics cannot escape the sense that Ratzinger’s exercise of ecclesial power is not what Jesus had in mind.
Beneath the competing analyses and divergent views, this much is certain: Ratzinger has drawn lines in the sand and wielded the tools of his office on many who cross those lines. Whether necessary prophylaxis or a naked power play, his efforts to curb dissent have left the church more bruised, more divided, than at any point since the close of Vatican II."
The article goes on to discuss Ratzinger's attacks on liberation theologists, his silencing of ecumenicism, his demonization of liberal politics and homosexuality, and his expansion of the doctrine of infallibility to include arguments against issues like the ordination of women which has never been found to be based on any teaching of Jesus or other sound theology.

For people to shrug their shoulders and say,"Oh well, he's a conservative, that's just what the Church is", is for them to close their eyes to the millions of faithful who are left voiceless by the policies of the Ratzingers and John Pauls of Catholicism. And the net effect will be for those who disagree to keep their own counsel, become more alienated from the Church, and continue living their lives as they see fit, whether that means using birth control or any other number of practices condemned by the Enforcer. That is how schisms are formed, and how churches become ghosts.

And that is how you take the "catholic" out of the Catholic Church.

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