Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The New Pope

I have to say I'm not too happy with Cardinal Ratzinger becoming the new Pope. From what I recall (and I note right out this may be wrong; I can't remember where I read this*) he was one of the people who urged the sexual abuse scandal to be soft-pedaled. When you have a stricter condemnation for divorce than for pedophile priests, I think it's safe to say you're out of touch. Add to it this comment:

"I am personally convinced that the constant presence in the press of the sins of Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign, as the percentage of these offences among priests is not higher than in other categories, and perhaps it is even lower... In the United States, there is constant news on this topic, but less than 1% of priests are guilty of acts of this type...The constant presence of these news items does not correspond to the objectivity of the information nor to the statistical objectivity of the facts. Therefore, one comes to the conclusion that it is intentional, manipulated, that there is a desire to discredit the Church. It is a logical and well-founded conclusion."

...and I think that this can be seen with little exaggeration as a slap in the face towards the abuse victims. Also, apparently, Ratzinger believes in the Vast Media Conspiracy (VMC) along with various out-there liberals and conservatives. Good company to be in.

Be that as it may, we'll have to see what happens. A long time ago - about four years - I predicted that there would be a schism in the Catholic Church within ten years. I said this at the time because I felt there was a broad support for things like letting priests get married and having women priests that were being tamped down by the Cardinals and the Pope. After that, the rephrensible sex scandals hit. When I heard that Ratzinger was a leading candidate, I said this might be the wedge that splits the Church open. Now he's Pope. Especially if we find out that Ratzinger did indeed treat the monsters more fairly then he treats, say, gay people who want to get married, I wonder how many Catholics will leave the church or if they will indeed decide to make another one. I could be wrong - Ratzinger may turn out to be the Papal Justice Kennedy - but I have to say I'm not too hopeful right now.

For what it's worth...


Yes, he was a Hitler Youth and "fought" for the Nazis. However, he joined in 1942, and it was legally mandated to be a Hitler Youth since 1941. (Also, in sort of the same way, all members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party weren't in it because they liked graft, torture, and really neat secret decoder rings, but because not joining it insured a life on the outside of good jobs and possible advancement.) As for the fighting, Germany was impressing teenagers and elderly men to fight for the Nazis as the war was ending, and Ratzinger manned an anti-aircraft gun in front of an aircraft engine factory, claiming he never fired the gun. I don't like Ratzinger, but I don't hold the Hitler Youth membership against him unless proof comes out he was a fervent follower, and the "fighting" I also can understand. Now, he could have done more, i.e. joined the Resistance or fought back, but that would be a "sin of omission" thing. From what I can tell, he's not guilty of a "sin of commission."

So why don't I like him? Basically, religion should be inclusive in my views. The single most important verse in the Bible is, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." People that I don't see as sinners - gays, divorced people, people who have abortions in cases of rape, incest or risk to mother's life - are condemned by this man and in very strident terms. So I cannot bring myself to like him. You can argue all he's doing is following doctrinal views, and that's fine - I still don't have to like the fact he's following and not, in my view, improving them.

* - According to The Observer, then-Cardinal Ratzinger asserted the rights to hold secret hearings and to keep evidence hidden for ten years after the victims reached adulthood in the sex abuse scandal. Letting out any evidence (breaching the secret) carries many penalities, one of them excommunication, for the priest that does so. If this document is true, Pope Benedict XVI is guilty of at the very least a cover-up of child abuse. Just the kind of man we need at the head of the Catholic Church.

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