Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Benedict XVI

I got the wrong name. In fact I got the wrong man. It's Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger after all.

The man turned 78 three days ago, which I thought would be against him. This is why I am not a Cardinal myself. For that matter, I am not a bookie either; the folks at Paddy Power had the short odds on Benedict for a reason, I suppose.

My brief notes after a half-hour of coverage on ABC (all quotes are approximated):
    1. From the initial statement by the new Holy Father: "The Cardinals have selected me, a humble worker in the field of the Lord. I am consoled that the Lord knows how to work through insufficient instruments." Nice touch of modesty.
    2. They had Cokie Roberts. (Sigh.) She looked as if a skunk had gotten into the studio. It wasn't quite as bad as the friend who asked me if this meant that the arch-conservatives were still in control of the Church. As a young prelate, Ratzinger was an instrumental voice at the Second Vatican Council, and people were all over him for being some sort of Protestant double-agent, a traitor to the true faith. Now he's supposedly Pat Robertson with a collar.
    3. Fr. McBrien impressed me. He praised the new Pope as a humble and self-effacing man, and liked the choice of name: "It signals that he will try to bring an end to the divisiveness within the Church... If he can bring rapproachment and healing with no dilution of doctrine or tradition, it will be a remarkable achievement." I expected worse.
    4. The commentator was less sanguine, citing an older document on the primacy of the Catholic Church, written by Ratzinger, that he quoted as saying that other denominations are deficient. He may well have written it. I hope rather that a Cardinal really does think that; if he's Catholic for a reason, I want to know what that reason is, and see if I agree or not. I want my Catholic prelates to teach Catholicism, much as the Barking Spider wants his pastor to be properly evangelical.
    5. Likewise, worrying about how he's going to be seen by other religions is preposterous, a red herring. He's supposed to be safeguarding our faith, not auditioning for other ones.
    6. World Youth Day happens to be in Cologne, Germany, this year. Benedict XVI is German. Can you say "command appearance"? That place will go bonkers when he shows up.


Anonymous said...

good thoughts, thanks Nightfly.

The Barking Spider said...

At least Cokie didn't call Pope Benedict XVI a Nazi. I agree with the approach of Southern Baptist president Al Mohler: Evangelicals can acknowledge our theological disagreements with the office of the papacy and at the same time admire B16 and JP2 for being good guys who stick to their principles. The media are PO'd that JP2 Catholics and Bible thumpers like me are teaming up to fight the attacks on the sanctity of life and marriage in the USA and with the choice of B16 they see more of the same. The media are also upset the the Catholic Church had the audacity to pick a Catholic! to lead the flock. It would be a horrible thing for the Church to turn into The Church of the Squishy Marshmallow. (BTW, Nightfly, outstanding coverage. You were up to the challenge.)

Therese Z said...

Actually I think how other religions view him is really important. If they can find some common ground with the Catholic Church, there is a greater chance of peace. Not compromise, but preserving the family, caring for the poor, eradicating disease, etc.

Ya gotta start somewhere.

nightfly said...

Therese, I understand where you're coming from - it's the basis of a lot of sound evangelism, starting way back with St. Paul in Athens, noticing the Shrine to the Unknown God and using it as a launching point for a sermon (Acts 17:22-34).

However, I notice that your brief list concerns all earthly things. They're vital; caring for the poor is in fact a direct command, and I would not omit it. I do suggest that for all their importance, they will not heal all the schisms within the faith, nor bring it rapproachment with the other faiths. Recall also Acts 6; the Apostles deferred things such as you've mentioned to the laity: "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables." (6:2)

We are the ones who daily meet the world and minister. The clergy (from the Pope out in every direction) are here more to minister to us, like the supply lines of an army. They can fight themselves if they have to and are in fact primary targets for the enemy, but they are supposed to be giving us the ammunition and support we need. They can't do that if they go Squishy Marshmallow on us.