Tuesday, April 19, 2005

On Benedict XVI

After Pope John Paul II passed, our parish priest offered his thoughts on the then-impending conclave.
His advice was something like this: "The Holy Spirit has already selected the new Pope. Pray that the cardinals will be able to discern him."
Now, we pray that the cardinals did indeed discern correctly, that Joseph Ratzinger, German veteran of the Curia, was indeed the anointed one.
I imagine Benedict XVI would even forgive the Daily Kos his foul-mouthed diatribe of this afternoon, though I admit I find it much harder to do so and refuse to make it easy for you to find it.
What we do know is that Benedict XVI has been a doctrinal conservative, much as John Paul II was. This does not sit well with a lot of people in the rarefied air of the "liberal" world.
What they forget is that religion is not a democratic process. The faithful do not get a vote on what they want their church to believe in. You can work on the peripherals, but the core of the faith is not a debatable topic.
For example, I believe the day will come... perhaps not for some time... when priests will be allowed to be married. (They already are in rare circumstances, such as when a married Protestant minister converts to Catholicism, or in some Eastern rites, if a man is married prior to entering the priesthood, he may remain so.) It may take longer, but perhaps in a couple of centuries, women may be ordained. It's not going to happen tomorrow.
We may at some point even see a relaxation of the ban on the use of condoms, which are not certified means of contraception, because of their strong effectiveness in preventing the spread of disease. (An aside -- a fellow I once worked with on a summer job used to joke that one of the first things he received on his wedding day was an apology from the "rubber company." This, of course, was back in the day when guys would do the right thing and marry the ladies they impregnated.) But to expect the church to suddenly change course on abortion? It's not going to happen. It would undermine the church's commitment to the culture of life.
Benedict XVI enters a world significantly different than the one that John Paul II encountered when he began his papacy. The threats to religious freedom come not from Marxist-Leninist dictatorships, but from ostensibly free nations in the civilized (?) West. (See my earlier post on Bishop Henry - http://eitherorr.blogspot.com/2005/04/wall-doesnt-work-both-ways.html )
Wish him Godspeed as he begins his journey.

UPDATE: For a take prior to the vote from one of my favorite writers, go to...