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Posted by on Apr 2, 2006 in At TMV | 2 comments

Has Pope Benedict Defied The Conventional Wisdom?

The AP reports that once again the conventional wisdom has been proven wrong: in this case, some early predictions about Pope John Paul II’s successor Pope Benedict have proven to have been inaccurate:

Pope John Paul II’s death a year ago — April 2, 2005 — left many Roman Catholics expecting that their church would take an even harder, more conservative line if the College of Cardinals picked early favorite Joseph Ratzinger as the next pontiff.

They got Ratzinger — now Pope Benedict XVI.

Yet the Vatican’s German-born chief orthodoxy watchdog has hardly acted like the man saddled with the nickname “God’s Rottweiler.”

Instead, the faithful got a pope who rode around in St. Peter’s Square in traditional papal headgear that resembled a Santa Claus hat. The man described as a “dour Bavarian” wrote his first encyclical on love.

That’s not to say that Benedict has changed his doctrinal tune. On the contrary, he has reaffirmed church teaching on everything from sexuality to the sanctity of life.

But in his first year as pope, Benedict has confounded left and right through a handful of small yet significant changes that defy easy interpretation. He is very much his own, unpredictable man.

Read the entire piece. It’s almost as if this Pope has pulled off the equivalent of “triangulation” and is not going as far right as some had hoped and is going further left than many predicted. It depends on the issue.

The AP story suggests that his humble style, willingness to meet with a harsh liberal critic, efforts to reach out to Jews and and firm denunciations of terrorism have made one thing clear: when he was appointed many considered him a mere “caretaker” Pope, someone who was warming the seat until his death and the appointment of a perhaps younger man. Instead, he is emerging as a Pope very much in his own right.

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  • To be honest, as a lifelong Catholic, the expectations and insinuations about this pope have always struck me as some combibation of ignorant and silly. And, no offense, this current reaction falls well within that meme.

  • So he has done NOTHING to address pedophile priests and the parish swapping to continue hiding those evil-doers within the Catholic Church.

    He has done NOTHING to address the declining recruiting of new clergy to replace an ever aging priesthood, such as overturning the dogma of allowing only celibate batchlor males to become priests for the ordination of women or allowing priests to marry.

    What celibate unmarried priest without children of their own can give practical advise on marrage or children when they are forbidden to confront those problems in their own lives??

    He has done NOTHING to incorporate advances in medical science, such as contraception and disease prevention, or modern economic circumstances into what is a still a medieval, agrarian-based dogma.

    Okay, so it’s only been a year and JP-II was essentially bedridden for the last years of his life which left a lot of structural problems to deal with. Even if he wasn’t ready to deal with these items right away, he still could have signaled a call for ideas and a general direction he wanted to take to resolve these many problems. Instead, zip, nada, nothing.

    So now we are supposed to applaud Benedict XVI for not tilting the Roman Catholic Church even further to the right?? Sorry, not me. Like the 4th Century Roman Empire, the RCC is suffering its own decline and fall.

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