Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger the New Pope: Benedict XVI

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Walter, Apr 20, 2005.

  1. Walter

    Walter Flamekeeper

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    Yesterday the new pope has been elected: Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger from Germany.

    Joseph Ratzinger was assigned 1981 by John Paul II as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and as president of the Biblical Commission and of the Pontifical International Theological Commission. For a brief profile look here.

    As for an impression what to expect from the new pope see his - much disputed - declaration Dominus Iesus

    Edit: Link corrected
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2005
  2. Arthur_Vandelay

    Arthur_Vandelay Hipster Doofus

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    According to much of the media commentary today, we might be surprised by Benedict XVI, who as Pope must play a different role to that he played as "the Pope's theologian." True, he enters the papacy with a reputation as a hardline conservative. And Dominus Iesus, with its critique of "relativistic theories which seek to justify religious pluralism," and its emphasis upon "the subistence of the one Church of Christ in the Catholic Church," does appear to compromise the Church's ecumenical outlook (which is perhaps most neatly summed up in Paul VI's Nostra Aetate). On the latter point, however, Religious Tolerance.org points out that:
    [font=trebuchet ms,arial,helvetica]
    [/font]But some argue (see also here) that Ratzinger's choice of the name "Benedict" is significant: a homage to wartime Pope Benedict XV which suggests that the new Pope may continue John Paul II's ecumenical work, but may also seek to ease tensions and divisions within the Church. Australian theologian Paul Collins, who had been under investigation by Ratzinger's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith until his resignation from the priesthood, remarked: "He's not going to be John Paul III in other words ... he's going to be his own man - he's going to be someone quite different" (source).

    I suppose we should just wait and see.






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  3. Barliman Butterbur

    Barliman Butterbur Worthy Keeper/Bree Roué

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    Several weeks ago I watched one Father Ryan being interviewed by Morley Safer on 60 Minutes. Father Ryan said that the Church needed "breathing room" and "recovery time" from all the hands-on activism engaged in by John Paul II over the last 26 years. He said that they would most likely pick a pope who would be not only old in age (to assure a short papacy), but "old line" as well: that is to say, a very conservative by-the-book doctrinal approach. That means nothing new.

    Last night I heard much the same thing said by Carl Bernstein (who wrote an extensive biography of John Paul II) interviewed by Keith Olberman on MSNBC. In addition, he said that the gay communities really do have something to worry about with the selection of this Pope.

    Seems like it's all happening exactly the way Father Ryan predicted.

    Barley
     
  4. Mrs. Maggott

    Mrs. Maggott Home is where the cat is

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    Of course Benedict XVI is not going to be John Paul II. However, I believe that most liberals in the Church are whistling in the wind if they believe he's going to turn into a closet "reformer" (i.e. liberal).

    Furthermore, the fact is that the Pope doesn't "make up" doctrine - contrary to what some people seem to believe. Of course, he has the ability to put emphasis on those issues he sees as important while allowing others to wither away through benign neglect. Still, that's a far different thing than making the kind of changes that many "progressives" in the Church wish to see - women priests, acceptance of abortion, contraception and "alternative lifestyles" etc. I don't think that even the most optimistic liberal can expect the new Pope to make such dramatic changes from his former well stated positions.

    Indeed, he may be even worse than the former Pope in that John Paul II was decidedly anti-war and anti-death penalty - views dear to the hearts of most liberals - as part of what he considered to be a "consistent" life ethic. On the other hand, whatever former Cardinal Ratzinger's personal beliefs are, he has publicly stated and written that "men of good faith" in the Church have come down on both sides of these issues. This may make him an even greater disappointment to Church liberals than was John Paul.

    However, the most important thrust of the new Pope's own perspective regarding the doctrines of the Church are well stated in his stand against "relativism" even when that particular ethic is being used for laudable purposes (ecumenical outreach, for instance). And in this, the Pope stands foresquare for Christian doctrine which does not allow for "relativism" or relativistic interpretations although the Church may recognize well intended attempts by good people trying to reconcile what is, in the end, irreconcileable. As with any issue in the Church, motives matter even if what is done is in and of itself, wrong.

    Obviously, at his advanced age, the new Pope is "transitional". John Paul was in his 50s when elected. Benedict will soon be 80. The real question is just what is the Church becoming in this "transition". Is Benedict holding the fort until another, younger "orthodox" Pope is ready to step into the office? On the other hand, is he a sop to the millions who mourned that late Pope with such fervor that the Cardinals - fearing to elect someone who could be seen as a rejection of the former Pope's leadership - chose Ratzinger to give the faithful time to forget John Paul? In other words, is Benedict a "traditional" Catholic in the mold of John Paul whom the hierarchy hope will have neither the time nor the charisma necessary to endear himself to the faithful so that upon his death, a more "progressive" (liberal) Pope can be elected without seeming to be a "slap" at John Paul II?

    Of course, these questions cannot be at present answered with anything but speculation which, I'm sure, will remain rife. One thing is certain, the late Pope became such an international icon that the Catholic Church will not soon retreat into the semi-obscurity reserved for traditional Christianity. Furthermore, if Benedict continues the work of his predecessor among the young and in the Third World, one doubts that he will be a "seven day wonder" to be forgotten on the eighth. However, only time will tell.
     
  5. Arthur_Vandelay

    Arthur_Vandelay Hipster Doofus

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    Well, in that case, let's hope Pope Benedict XVI does surprise us. His predecessor was equally "old line," but was successful because of his charisma and popular appeal--something which, by all accounts, the new Pope lacks (that's not to say he isn't a nice person).

    Then again, Ratzinger has chosen for his namesake an anti-war Pope.

    No, but what we should hope for is more openness, collegiality, freedom of opinion, and understanding within the Church. The issues you list here are not the only issues that have concerned Catholics with regard to John Paul II's papacy. But as long as we're on the subject, I'm puzzled by your use of the term "alternative lifestyle." What is an "alternative lifestyle?" When you say "alternative lifestyle," do you mean homosexuality; and if so, why not just say homosexuality?
     
  6. Mrs. Maggott

    Mrs. Maggott Home is where the cat is

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    As for Ratzinger choosing Benedict: I said that I did not know where he "came down" on the issues of war and the death penalty. I merely pointed out that he has commented on the fact that good men have been on both sides of these issues in the Church and that there is no clear Church doctrine which would invalidate either stance.

    Heaven's no! There are tons of "alternate lifestyles" from "living together" to group marriages to God alone knows what might be considered "popular" in times to come. I merely indicated that the Church recognizes the legitimacy and morality of sexual intercourse within only one relationship: marriage which She defines as being between one man and one woman. Any other sexual activity - yes, even "Clintercourse" - is contrary to the moral dogmas of the Church and therefore unacceptable. The gender and/or number of those involved in the act(s) is irrelevant if it doesn't fall within the accepted doctrinal definition of marriage. I hope this clears things up for you.

    Certainly one hopes that the Church "collegially" will be able to discuss all of Her problems and the problems of the world in an atmosphere of openness and love. However, that means that everyone must be willing to accept the will of God in whatever decisions are made even if those decisions are disappointing. And how does the Church know the will of God? Well, certainly both Scripture and Tradition (with a capital "T") are witnesses to what the Church has historically considered that to be. Of course, in the past, errors have been made - and corrected! Furthermore, each new Council calls upon the Holy Spirit to help those involved reach the correct decisions. Indeed, if all concerned are striving to do God's will and are honest in their dealings, then one should hold out high hopes for the future. Unfortunately, given what has transpired in the recent past, those are very BIG "ifs".
     
  7. chrysophalax

    chrysophalax Dragon of Note

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    "Indeed, he may be even worse than the former Pope in that John Paul II was decidedly anti-war and anti-death penalty - views dear to the hearts of most liberals -"

    Mrs. M...I never realised it was a...to borrow your penchant for quotation marks..."liberal-exclusive" viewpoint to be anti-war. Aren't most people, whatever their religious/political bent?

    Not being Catholic myself but merely from my observations of the work John Paul II carried on, I would say, as popes go...his successor will be hard pressed to fill his shoes. Personally, I had hoped that the college of cardinals would have selected a man with a more open, progressive viewpoint, but in truth, the winds are of change are very rarely gale-force.
     
  8. Walter

    Walter Flamekeeper

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    Unfortunately no, as the current political situation in the world seems to indicate.

    And Christianity is no exception to that, Saint Thomas Aquinas was neither the first nor the last Christian to propagate the "Just War" hypothesis (cf. Summa Theologica), which makes it possible to distinguish between a "good war" and a "bad war" (curiously it seems to be that the ones we're involved in are always the "good wars" whereas those of our opponents are always the "bad wars"...but maybe that's got to do with the fact that we're the good guys)...
     
  9. Barliman Butterbur

    Barliman Butterbur Worthy Keeper/Bree Roué

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    And also curious that both sides are usually speaking of the same war.

    Assuming the existence of God for the moment — how do you suppose it feels when two groups of your own creation are each desperately praying to you for the annihalation of the other — and when one side wins, they always praise you for your help in the annihalation and the losers (if any are left) curse you... :eek:

    Barley
     
  10. Arthur_Vandelay

    Arthur_Vandelay Hipster Doofus

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    From the blogs . . .

    Andrew Sullivan
    Outside the Beltway


    Dispatches from the Culture Wars


    Catholic Light
     
  11. Mrs. Maggott

    Mrs. Maggott Home is where the cat is

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    Not necessarily. It depends upon the war. Of course, no Christian - indeed, no decent person applauds war in and of itself. However, even among Christians there is the belief that some wars are justified (WWII is certainly one such war). Even the Church has supported struggles against what She considered tyranny. When the Greeks rose against the Ottoman Empire, the first thing that the Turks did was hang the Greek Orthodox Primate because of his call for Greek independence from the Muslims.

    As for the death penalty, I have noted that many Christians understand it to be a necessary adjunct of the "godly State". Even C. S. Lewis believed that capital punishment was necessary for certain crimes if for no other reason than to make the criminal come to terms with the state of his soul.

    The simple fact is this: across the board rejection of both war - even a just war - and capital punishment seems to be a predominantly liberal point of view at least for the last few decades.

    I am not a Roman Catholic either, but someday I would like someone who calls for "change" and speaks about "progressive" (the new term which has taken the place in many instances of the word "liberal") to elucidate just exactly what those terms mean. Just exactly what "changes" are considered welcome? After all, change for the sake of change has no legitimacy since the change could - and probably would - be for the worse!

    Do those advocating change mean that they want the Church to be more in line with the world? If they do, then they are obviously unfamiliar with Scripture in which Jesus - the Founder and Head of the Church - considers the world to be the antithesis of the Church. Therefore, making the Church more worldly would be diametric to Her function and ruinous to Her calling.

    Are they looking for more "collegiality" - and by that I mean more "democracy" within the Church? Again, the Church is not a "democratic" institution. She does not determine Her doctrines and Her dogmas by way of opinion polls or ballots. And while certainly the Church should be acting in concert - there is no Pope or doctrine of papal infallibility in the Orthodox Church - that does not mean that "majority rules" (see First Ecumencal Council of Nicea on the Arian heresy).

    Are they looking for changes that are less problematic referable to the meaning and function of the Church - as, for instance, the possibility of married clergy? Yes, there is certainly an age old Tradition in the Church for married clergy and at present there are even married priests in the Roman Catholic Church - Eastern Rite as well as married clergy who convert to Catholicism. So discussions and even a possible change in Church canons regarding married clergy are quite legitimate. Far less so is the question of women priests as there is nothing either in Scripture or Tradition in the Church - East or West - which would permit it.

    C. S. Lewis wrote passionately about man's addiction to "something new", to "change" and his dislike of "the same old thing". Yet, when something is created that works, change for the sake of change can do more harm than good. Worse still, change is often the harbinger not of a desire for making the thing being changed "better", but rather, merely different. I think that such is the case with the Christian Church in all of Her many present factions. Scripture and Tradition are clear as to what Christ wanted for His Church. He was hardly obscure or obtuse in His instructions to those who followed Him. If advocates of change are trying to realize His vision of the Church more fully, then at least any changes being considered will have Christ as their moving force. If, on the other hand, there is another agenda, then "orthodox" Christians - whatever their denomination - should be wary indeed of those changes.
     
  12. chrysophalax

    chrysophalax Dragon of Note

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    Hmm, seems to me Christ was all about change...radical change. He was all for showing people revolutionary ways of thinking.

    To paraphrase (heavily)

    "She's an adulteress, Stone her!"
    Christ: "Whichever one of you has never done wrong...go ahead!"


    When he threw out the money-changers...he wasn't in the best of moods, he was affecting social change. As he did in so many cases, Christ took the Law and the people in his hands and boiled the whole thing down to 2 concepts.

    "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength."
    "Love others as you love yourself."

    Pure, simple and incredibly difficult to grasp.

    So many fundamentalists (of all faiths) have corrupted those pure concepts, twisting them to mean far less than Christ proposed.

    In two short sentences, he laid the groundwork for change within the human spirit. These concepts are not exclusively Christian either, they are basic precepts in all religions, to honour what is higher than yourself, love and respect it...and do no harm to others.

    What happens after is not up to us, but to whatever Power/Powers that be.

    If others choose to live differently than we ourselves choose...if it doesn't violate those 2 precepts...what's the problem??
     
  13. Mrs. Maggott

    Mrs. Maggott Home is where the cat is

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    Not so. Christ came to bring to the Jews what they already knew but because of "changes" no longer understood. He taught no new doctrine. Indeed, He said He had not come to change the Law, but to fulfill it. His act of mercy to the woman caught in adultery was a "teaching tool" as well as a personal act of forgiveness. He did not forbid her stoning, but merely said of those about to do so that only one who had never sinned should cast the first stone. Of course, those listening realized that none of them was sinless and therefore none could be the first to fulfill the Mosaic Law. Remember, the woman was brought before Him by those who were attempting to ensnare Him and bring about His downfall. These were not simple honest Jews seeking knowledge. This was another example of the question about taxes with which the Scribes and Pharisees wished to bring about His destruction. However, He had answers for all of them that they simply could not refute.

    However, all of Christ's doctrines - moral and theological - were already in place. He didn't bring in anything new but He did present it in a way that the people had never heard before. "No man speaks as this Man speaks!" is what the Temple guards told the Sanhedrin when they sent them to have Him arrested. Yet, none of His doctrines or actions - including the scourging of the moneychangers - was a departure from God's Law as the Jews themselves knew - or should have known - it. In short, Christ was not an agent of change but an agent of revelation.

    The same thing is true in the Church today. Many have departed from what the Church taught in the beginning, mixing in human philosophy and worldly "wisdom" in an attempt to make the Church "relevant". It is unnecessary and, worse, a deviation from what is True.

    As for those who "believe otherwise": they are quite free to do so. Those of whom at least I am speaking - and I assumed others were as well - are those who by their own free will have joined themselves as members of the Church. Once you have done so, you are no longer free to believe what you wish at least if you are serious in your membership. It's like any "worldly" institution. Once you become a member, you are bound by its rules and regulations. You cannot simply by virtue of your own opinion accept some and ignore and/or violate others - at least if you expect to remain a member, you can't.

    In short, it is pointless to argue these matters if one continues to consider the beliefs and actions of those outside the Church. On the other hand, for those who confess Christ and consider themselves members of His Body (the Church), these are not matters to be lightly disputed. "Cafeteria Catholicism", "pot-luck Protestantism" and "opinion Orthodoxy" do not represent the Church. Instead, they are a hybrid "spirituality" that while bearing many of the outwards signs of "Christianity" are inwardly sterile and futile.

    What Lewis said about Christ is also true of the Church. Either She is what She says She is and therefore must be accepted on Her terms, or She is a myth, a lie, a fairy-tale which affords believers neither hope in this world or salvation in the world to come. If She is the former, who would dare to try to change Her - and if She is the latter, who would want to waste time trying?
     
  14. chrysophalax

    chrysophalax Dragon of Note

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    OK...this is strictly an aside...but why in heck do you always capitalise "She"? It's not like the Church is a living entity...that's creepy!
     
  15. Mrs. Maggott

    Mrs. Maggott Home is where the cat is

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    The Church is alive! She is the Bride of Christ; She is the Body and He is Her Head; He acts in the world through Her. The Church is not just another "institution", a creation of the world; an "it". That is why for believers, She is so important. She's not just another Moose Lodge or Elks Club, a nice charitable organization with pretty rituals. She is "alive" in the sense that She is faithful to Christ's commandments and performs His work on the earth - the work of bringing all men to salvation. Indeed, the Church is actually two Churches: the Church Militant - for those of us who are still alive - and the Church Triumphant for the saints who have "finished the race" and are with Christ in His Kingdom.

    Frankly, unless you understand the meaning that the Church has for Her adherents, you will continue to fail to understand why there is so much resistance by believers to the type of "change" that is usually meant when people demand "relevance", "tolerance" and all the other "p.c." stuff that unbelievers want to see in the Church. This is not simply a human organization which needs to be "updated" with the latest technology and philosophical worldviews!

    I hope that this makes my point more clear.
     
  16. e.Blackstar

    e.Blackstar wanderer, not lost

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    Well, from some viewpoints Chry, 'the church' is the people involved...you know, the Bride of Christ. So it could be taken as such...anyway.

    My two cents, off-topic though they are.

    Oh, and Mrs. M? If the above isn't what you mean, feel free to correct me. :)
     
  17. Walter

    Walter Flamekeeper

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    Again we are back to these unwarranted and un-proveable assumptions...

    Can you please back this up?

    No change, but an entirely new church, is that it?

    What about "she" is and always has been an - almost - entirely political and quite mundane institution? And that therefor any Chrsitian may find revelation in spite of the church rather than through her?

    ----

    When I opened this thread I was hoping for an open-minded discussion about the new pope and what to expect from him, not for the umpteenth re-iterations of the same bullsh....sugar...
     
  18. Walter

    Walter Flamekeeper

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    Since Ratzinger was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith much of the church's course and doctrinal policy was already heavily influenced by him. Thus I wouldn't expect much of a change in that area.

    Moreover I think the first of A_V's blogs isn't all that way off the mark. Ratzinger is a brilliant thinker and almost dangerously intelligent. From many documentiations about him in the past I have gathered the impression he is very well aware of the various aspects and facets of truth and able and willing to use them in his attempt to lead the listener/reader where he wants him to.

    He has already stated that he "hopes to believe the same as Saint Paul" and while this suggests that he is very well aware of where his church's tradition stems - Paul not Christ - I am afraid that this will not do for the "more openness, collegiality, freedom of opinion, and understanding within the Church" many Christians and others are hoping for....
     
  19. Barliman Butterbur

    Barliman Butterbur Worthy Keeper/Bree Roué

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    That depends on who's doing the posting. You can't hope for apple juice from a lemon. Obviously there are some of us who, rather than engage in a genuine exchange of ideas are instead long-committed to championing what they consider to be Divine Dogma and Doctrinal Diatribe (seemingly in order to be in a superior position over dissenters), and other authoritarian high-falutin' bovinesugar.

    One solution is to use the IGNORE feature.

    Barley
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2005
  20. Walter

    Walter Flamekeeper

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    Too many followers of religions or sects simply can't seem to accept that, because it is an important part of their religion not only to presume their own one as superior to all others, but also trying to convince others of this assumed superiority. This goes as far as leading "Holy Wars" in the name of their faith.

    Joseph Ratzinger in his Dominus Jesus leaves no doubt that he too believes in this superiority of his religion, that he sees the Catholic faith as the only correct one and the Catholic church as the only one true to this faith. There's no such thing as "live and let live" regarding faith and religion in his essay, rather "[we are] the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by [us]":

    So, either you are a Catholic or need to be converted or else you will be doomed. Equality only exists as far as personal dignity is concerned, but believe differently and you are errant and your beliefs inferior. According to this passage it is God's will that you be saved and for that you need to become a Catholic. Ain't that simple?

    Would it were true...