Smoke Signals

I question whether I should even post something on the subject, but it does strike me as slightly odd that Catholic officials chose Joseph Ratzinger to be Pope. The man does seem singularly acceptable to the old church but I can’t imagine that it’s going to help the foundation of the faith expand in places like Latin America and Africa, where there actually are church-goers (as compared to say, much of Germany, where Mr. Ratzinger hails).
Further, while Jewish newspapers like Haaretz seem to support the choice, his membership in Hitler Youth feels strange. According to a number of articles, Mr. Ratzinger has a very positive view of and has committed himself to contemporary Jews, Judaism, and Jewish religiosity. And it’s true that almost any young boy during Hitler’s reign was inducted into the youth movement.
Still, still, why did the Church take on a German cardinal when Germany is no longer a model Catholic country? And while hiring a senior citizen as Pope keeps the tenure short, why not make a statement about the Church’s longevity with someone with longevity? And what’s with the name Benedict? Odd, odd, odder still.

One thought on “Smoke Signals”

  1. Andy,
    You have every right to comment on this very sad development, because it will have a negative effect on our culture, regardless of religious affiliation. This is the ascendance of reactionary and punitive leaders in a worldwide organization with quite a bit of clout outside North America and Europe (Also apparently in the US too as Sidney Blumenthal says Ratzinger’s thinly vieled anti-Kerrey comments may have thrown the election). As someone recently said, with Ratzinger we get all of the JP2s reactionary tendencies with none of his charm.
    I feel the same type if not intensity) of dread as when W. Bush was chosen by the Supremes in 2000. My pessimistic and cynical side told me that Ratzinger would be the choice, based on the composition of the College of Cardinals that JP2 built, but my sunny side insisted that something good could happen. Alas, it seems in 2005 it’s hard to be too cynical about the way power works.
    This is a goodbye to any further discussion of sexuality, the marriage of priests and the role of women in the Catholic church for at least the lifetime of Ratzinger (could be 20 more years) and likely beyond, since he and JPII will have spent at least 30 years purging the church of it’s progressive leadership. There will be nobody but the like-minded among papal candidates for quite some time. This is not a temporary setback, it is likely a decisive one which could easily mean the end of Catholic relevance in countries where people are no longer willing to accept Medieval dogma from a church which they now more closely associate with secrecy and institutional pederasty than concern for improving the lot of humanity.
    I’m amused by those who believe this man will somehow moderate his views at 78, now that he has the power to make his wildest anti-gay, anti-woman and anti-individual fantasies into reality. We should all hope this doctrinaire authoritarian will see the light, but I think those poor folks in Sub-Saharan Africa are going to have to continue to do without condoms or birth control so long as they seek the help of Catholic charities. The human damage this adherence to outmoded superstition will bring is hard to calculate.
    No need to pull punches, this is bad news, though for me it is also confirmation that I made the right choice when I walked away from the Catholic Church at 17. Still, it hurts to see this happen because the church is a strong part of my family and ethnic identity.

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