April 30, 2005

In Defense of Benedict XVI

Right after Cardinal Ratzinger become the Pope Benedict XVI a few liberals came out an attack the new pope. One line of attack was Rartzinger played a partisan role in the 2004 Presidential election. Andrew Greeley a catholic priest respond to Liberals who disparage the Pope and Conservatives who claim the Pope as one of them.

Don't blame pope for Kerry defeat

Benedict XVI, I discovered upon returning from Rome, was responsible for John Kerry losing the election last year. Fool that I was, I had not figured that out. I can't tell whether the story came from anti-Catholics who wanted to smear the new pope (the same kind of folks who made a big deal of his involuntary membership in Hitler Youth) or fanatic Catholic conservatives who wanted to praise the pope for his good work.

The then-Cardinal Ratzinger had written in response to a letter from the American hierarchy about Catholic candidates who supported abortion. Should they be denied the sacraments? Should Catholics who voted for such a candidate be denied the sacraments? The conclusion of the bishops' discussion of Cardinal Ratzinger's letter was that they would take no common stand but leave it to individual bishops to decide. The important point is that they did not decide to adopt the arguments of a few bishops that Catholics voting for Kerry should not receive the sacraments. The New York Times harrumphed that by not denouncing the stand of the few bishops, the rest of the hierarchy had approved it. One cannot, I suppose, expect a reporter for that paper to grasp that current canon law does not permit the total hierarchy to override the policy of even one bishop. [...]

What's proportionate or not must be determined by the individual conscience and cannot be decided by someone else. As far as I know, no one asked Cardinal Ratzinger whether the sacraments could be denied to a candidate who supports a preemptive war or the death penalty.

In fact, Kerry lost the election not because of "moral values" as the idiots at the New York Times proclaimed on the day after the election but because of "national security" or "the war on terrorism," the mantra that carried the president to another very close victory. Americans were more concerned about this issue than any other, especially women. Kerry, having supported the war, found himself in a position in which he thought he had to say that he would fight the "war on terror" better than the incumbent could. It was not a very persuasive argument. Small wonder that the gender gap favoring the Democrats faded away. It is quite astonishing that Kerry was only one state -- Ohio -- from winning even with that handicap. [...]

Since I don't know whether this slander of the new pope came from the right or the left, I will say merely that it took a very twisted and, indeed, evil mind to come up with the story that Benedict had put Bush back in the White House -- either a viciously bigoted anti-Catholic or demented Catholic conservative who is eager to claim the pope for his own cause. In either case it is a shameful story that, as far as I know, no one has bothered to refute.

I don't know whether Pope Benedict is any more or less "conservative" than his predecessor. I do know that he is against the death penalty and preemptive war and in favor of immigration and of aid to the poor countries. Catholic conservatives should be careful who they are claiming for their own.
It was American hierarchy of the played a partisan role in the election, not Cardinal Ratzinger. Andrew Greeley also make a good point, no one asked Cardinal Ratzinger whether the sacraments could be denied to a candidate who supports a preemptive war or the death penalty, Ratzinger was ask only about abortion. The American bishops only wanted to deny sacraments to Liberal Catholics who support women rights not Conservative Catholics who support the death penalty or a preemptive war. The American bishops are the real partisans.

Benedict XVI is a conservative on the laws of the Church, but he is not a person of the American left or right, it would be unwise to claim otherwise.

Go read the whole article


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