Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Pimp my Vatican - not this conclave

Well it is official; the new Pope is Benedict XVI (German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger). Joe Ratzinger should not be confused with John Ratzenberger. Although both of these people have never been in my kitchen.

Seriously though, the election of Ratzinger as Pope shouldn't come as a complete surprise. By most accounts, he had been the frontrunner to succeed John Paul II for months, if not years.

To say that Ratzinger's selection represents a clear victory for the more conservative side (is there another side? Does uberconservative count?) of the church is a huge understatement. As cardinal, Ratzinger attracted a boatload of criticism for his stance on women as priests, birth control and homosexuality. That zeal in enforcing orthodoxy attracted quite a few labels over the years. Ratzinger has been called variously "The Hammer" (similar to Jim Shapiro?), "Cardinal No," even "God's Rottweiler."

Ratzinger, 78, is poised to take the church in the same direction that has left many fleeing the benches. He has railed against changing the church's stance and offered this firm quote: "Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church, is often labeled today as 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."

Those hoping for a greater role for women in the church will be disappointed. I guess they will have to continue to be happy with their role in the choir. Ratzinger has been front and center in guarding against any relaxation of the church's steadfast opposition to birth control.

In fact, he intervened against John Kerry in United States 2004 Presidential Election. Ratzinger ordered bishops to deny communion to abortion rights supporters including Kerry himself. He did this on the grounds that they were committing a grave sin. A footnote to the letter also condemned any Catholic who votes specifically for a candidate because the candidate holds a pro-abortion position. Such a voter "would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for holy communion," the letter read.

Ratzinger also served in the Hitler Youth during World War II when membership was compulsory, according to his autobiography. Gasp! It should be noted that his biographer’s say he was never a member of the Nazi party and his family opposed Adolf Hitler's regime.

The church missed the boat on this selection. They could have chosen a more progressive candidate or someone from a developing country. Instead they go back to the well of stale, stuffy white men. In essence, it appears the church is content to keep the blinders on for the 21st century.

You miss the whole point of the Catholic Church and what John Paul the Great did for the Church. If you want a religion that changes with every fad, join the United Church. If you want a Church that will always be the same , the same moral compass, that is the Catholic Church. You want collapsing numbers, look at the United Church and some of those other "progressive" Churches, they can't hang on to members, a good number of those leaving are going to Churches that won't change with every fad

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