I'm surprised by how genuinely upset the appointment of Ratzinger (I can't bear to call him Benedict XVI) makes me. I've noticed that a lot of you
seem to feel the same way. I'm not sure why the appointment of a leader of a Church that very few of us still consider ourselves part of affects us so much, but it does. I don't think that it's because we thought we'd go back to the Church some day, but maybe it's because somewhere we still feel a cultural identification with the idea of liberal Catholicism, with liberation theology and radical nuns, with the power of beautiful ritual and Latin hymns. Maybe that's why the appointment of Ratzinger feels like a slap in the face. Now, if there were any doubts, we know we can't ever go back.
Luckily, lots of others feel the same way. Here's the wonderful Frances Kissling, in an excellent Salon piece
The good news is that Ratzinger is not John Paul II. No world leader owes him thanks for his role in the downfall of communism. It will take years for his papacy to achieve any potential political cache. The bad news is that he is Pope, and he was elected by two thirds or more of the princes of the church, who knew what they were doing.
I can no longer delude myself about these princes’ almost total lack of interest in healing the divide in the Church, in showing compassion for or even in listening to the voices of the suffering. The time for nuance is over. Let the unholy war begin.
And here's Salon writer Amy Sullivan:
The election of Ratzinger signals a decision to stick with the failed policies that have led millions of Catholics in the developing world to leave the church for Pentecostalism, and millions of western Catholics to simply leave religion altogether. The choice Ratzinger has posed -- between the tyranny of relativism or the triumph of orthodoxy -- is false. The church will continue to suffer for his lack of imagination.
I don't usually agree with Andrew Sullivan (no relation to the aforementioned Amy - I think), but I'm with him on this one:
Benedict has no pastoral experience, scant knowledge of the developing world, a terrible reputation in Europe as a full-bore reactionary, and no real comfort as an actor on the world stage. In other words, he offers all the drawbacks of JPII and none of the advantages. He does have an interesting mind. But the more deeply you read, the scarier it gets: He even backs a pre-modern view of the conscience, which holds that you can only have a good conscience if you agree with him.
I'd like to write more about Ratzinger and his particularly selective form of moral absolutism, but with typical erudition rozk
(yet another former Catholic - why are there so many of us round here?) said it better than I could here
. And l'll let the final word go to Jesuit writer James Martin:
I can only pray that Pope Benedict proves to be more tolerant and open-minded than Cardinal Ratzinger was.