Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Chattering Class Chatters

Maureen Dowd mentioned B16 in her column today.

Just in case you are prone to heart attacks, I'm placing the quote in white, meaning that you'll have to highlight it if you have the stomach for it. Here it is:
    The white smoke yesterday signaled that the Vatican thinks what it needs to bring it into modernity is the oldest pope since the 18th century: Joseph Ratzinger, a 78-year-old hidebound archconservative who ran the office that used to be called the Inquisition and who once belonged to Hitler Youth. For American Catholics - especially women and Democratic pro-choice Catholic pols - the cafeteria is officially closed. After all, Cardinal Ratzinger, nicknamed "God's Rottweiler" and "the Enforcer," helped deny Communion rights to John Kerry and other Catholic politicians in the 2004 election.
It is, once again, confirmed: Maureen Dowd lives in an alternate reality.

The NYTimes official editorial on Benedict wasn't nearly as bad. Which isn't saying much, of course. But really... it could have been much, much worse.

Closer to home, the Minneapolis (Red)Star-Tribune managed to quote Fr. Richard McBrien in it's op-ed, and concluded with this line: "Whether Benedict XVI adopts those kinds of pastoral values or remains a Vatican enforcer is the question of the hour."

The Boston Globe's editorial is here. All things considered, it's not too bad. But there are a couple doozies, like, "But the election of Pope Benedict XVI raises concerns among Protestants who felt slighted by Ratzinger during their attempts at ecumenical dialogue." Really? Is that why he was credited with almost single-handedly saving the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification signed with the Lutheran World Federation in 1999? Surely what is between the lines is Dominus Iesus, the 2000 document from Ratzinger's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which said that the Catholic Church has the fullness of faith, and that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. On the former... what church or Christian community doesn't believe that about itself? On the latter, does the verse "there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12) ring any bells? When DI came out, I discussed it in my ecclesiology classes at Steubenville, and pointed out that the vast majority of the footnotes refer to Vatican II documents, making it virtually impossible to see how the document could actually be read as a retreat to the pre-conciliar era.

The other line worth commenting on is this: "
It is unclear how the new pope will rebuild church attendance in Europe and the United States." I don't think Benedict is planning to spike church attendance in Europe or the US anytime soon. In fact, I wouldn't that he expects to see a decline in attendance during his own pontificate. Rather, I think his goal is to reposition the Church and to make it ready to respond when Western culture and society is ready to look at Christianity anew.

The Church can only be truly understood from the inside; I can only hope and pray that our nation's commentariat one day looks at the Catholic Church anew and boldly risks to take just such a view.

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