Tuesday, April 19, 2005

New Pope - New Culture War?

by Gregg Chadwick

Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany Is Elected
265th Pope, Taking Benedict XVI as Name

The newly elected pope is a divisive figure and an acknowledged opponent of a contemporary, pluralistic and modern culture.
In a world beset with war, over-population, environmental degradation, religious strife, AIDS, prejudice and racism, we need a religious leader who embraces humanity in all its colors, genders, orientations and talents. Instead we are presented with a man who is according to Rose Marie Berger of Sojourner's Magazine, "dogmatic, and rule-bound. Inclusive language makes him queasy. Liberation theology and women's ordination give him hives." The new pope sees pluralist modernity as heresy and homosexuality as a moral and psychological disorder. As Cardinal, Ratzinger predicted that Buddhism would replace Marxism as the Catholic Church’s main enemy this century.

"Art itself, which in impressionism and expressionism explored the extreme possibilities of the sense of sight, becomes literally object-less. Art turns into experimenting with self-created worlds, empty "creativity", which no longer perceives the Creator Spiritus, the Creator Spirit. It attempts to take his place, and yet, in so doing, it manages to produce only what is arbitrary and vacuous, bringing home to man the absurdity of his role as creator."
- Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, "Art, Image and Artists"

"There is simply no other figure more extreme than the new Pope on the issues that divide the Church. No one. He raised the stakes even further by his extraordinarily bold homily at the beginning of the conclave, where he all but declared a war on modernity, liberalism (meaning modern liberal democracy of all stripes) and freedom of thought and conscience. And the speed of the decision must be interpreted as an enthusiastic endorsement of his views. What this says to American Catholics is quite striking: it's not just a disagreement, it's a full-scale assault. This new Pope has no pastoral experience as such. He is a creature of theological discourse, a man of books and treatises and arguments. He proclaims his version of the truth as God-given and therefore unalterable and undebateable. His theology is indeed distinguished, if somewhat esoteric and at times a little odd. But his response to dialogue within the church is to silence those who disagree with him. He has no experience dealing with people en masse, no hands-on experience of the challenges of the church in the developing world, and complete contempt for dissent in the West. His views on the subordinate role of women in the Church and society, the marginalization of homosexuals (he once argued that violence against them was predictable if they kept pushing for rights), the impermissibility of any sexual act that does not involve the depositing of semen in a fertile uterus, and the inadmissibility of any open discourse with other faiths reveal him as even more hard-line than the previous pope. I expected continuity. I didn't expect intensification of the fundamentalism and insularity of the current hierarchy. I expect an imminent ban on all gay seminarians, celibate or otherwise. And I expect the Church's immersion in the culture wars in the West - on every imaginable issue. For American Catholics, I foresee an accelerating exodus. But that, remember, is the plan. The Ratzingerians want to empty the pews in America and start over. They will, in that sense, be successful."
-Andrew Sullivan

Also see: don't forgive them;they know what they are doing.


Isabella said...

There's much about Ratzinger that is unsettling. I would love to hear your response to his words on art.

(When I lived in Ottawa I would often go look at Bacon's Study for Portrait No 1 — disturbing images.)

delilahboyd said...

I linked to this excellent post from my online column (Blog Box), which will be published tomorrow morning (on www.democraticunderground.com). DU has over 60,000 registered members and lots more casual readers.

Just thought I'd give you a Heads Up.

Delilah Boyd