The Commonwealth of Virginia's Ultimate Blog

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI

German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was named the new Pope today. White smoke billowed from the Vatican's smokestack this morning, signalling the election of a new Pope. The Washington Post has the story covered here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the Pope Catholic?

12:34 PM

Anonymous A Benedict Fan said...

God Bless our new Pope, Benedict XVI. Benedict will hold the line on all major issues of Catholic theology in the Church today. As head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, he's already been doing that at the Vatican since 1981.

But this blog is a political one. So to all you politicos and non-Catholics out there, know that Benedict will staunchly defend the right to life and the dignity of all persons. You can count on him to be a positive force in the world much the same as John Paul the Great was.

2:58 PM

Blogger Old Zach said...

Thanks for the comments, benedict fan. I am not a Catholic and therefore know very little about what the new Pope brings to the table. Any additional commentary would be welcomed.

3:35 PM

Anonymous A Benedict Fan said...

Hey Old Zach, sorry I didn't check this blog for a while or I would have posted more sooner.

Ratzinger, now Benedict, has been working under John Paul II as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 1981. The Congregation is an arm of the Roman Curia (bureaucracy) that has the primary responsibility for formulating Catholic teaching on theological issues. These theological issues often overlap into social ones. The Cardinal of this Congregation is basically the Pope's right hand man. While the Pope obviously sets the themes for his Pontificate and has the last say on all doctrines, the Congregation Benedict headed flushed them out.

Benedict and John Paul II saw eye to eye on basically everything. In other words, if you can think of a teaching John Paul II had, you can count on Benedict to maintain that doctrine. Think of whatever you want--abortion, homosexuality, the role of women, etc. Odds are Benedict has already written quite a bit about it. During his time at the Congregation, Vatican observers knew that a statement by Benedict, while not having the Papal authority of John Paul II, should be regarded nonetheless as the Pope's position.

Benedict is regarded possibly the most brilliant theologian of his generation. Many people disagree with his positions, but the flawlessly logical progression of his writings remains indisputable. Our late Pope recognized this when he appointed him to head the Congregation. John Paul II actually valued Benedict so much that in 1991 when Benedict requested to quit the Vatican and return to Germany, John Paul II refused, ordering him to maintain his current post.

Benedict was elected Cardinal Dean in 1998. The Dean is elected by the College of Cardinals. It's largely a ceremonial position, but is a mark of high respect. When the Pope dies, the Dean becomes the de facto highest ranking member in the Church, until the election of a new Pope. Hence Benedict got to preside over John Paul II's funeral Mass and deliver the homily at the Mass preceding the Cardinals' entry into the Conclave.

Now before I wrap this up, I'll delve just a little more into Pope Benedict's positions:

1. abortion: no change. Benedict will maintain the dogma (the highest level of Church teaching) that abortion under any circumstances is a mortal sin. There are no exceptions.

2. homosexuality: no change. Benedict has previously said that homosexuality is an evil.

3. women: no change. Contrary to what many people think, the role of women in the Church is a theological doctrine, not just a tradition. Our late Pope wrote about this in the 1990s in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. In a nutshell, here it is: examining the Gospels, we see that Christ appointed only men to pastoral positions. Women had important roles, but were never involved in ministering. The Gospels say that the decision on who to send to these positions was divinely inspired. This means it was not the product of the time, as many claim. Therefore, the doctrine of a male-only priesthood must remain forever.

4. celibacy in the priesthood: no change. This is actually an area that is subject to change. Obviously, the Apostles had wives. The Church still allows some priests to have wives (for Protestant pastors who convert to Catholicism and want to become priests). The fact that the Church mandates celibacy stems simply from that the Church believes pastors do not have enough time to care for their flock and their family. But while this area could change, Benedict is a strong traditionalist. He will maintain the status quo.

5. worldview: Benedict is a strong believer is objectivism. In other words, truth simply exists. There is no truth for person A and another truth for person B. One is right, the other is wrong, or both are wrong.

Benedict believes that straying from objectivism has led to a decline in society. In the relativist world, no one can say to anyone else that they are wrong. People abandon all that is good for momentary pleasures. But religion and moral living depends on discerning right from wrong. Only once we accept our failings and turn to Christ and His Church for guidance will we find order and peace.

And finally, I look for Benedict to be a man of peace. The last Pope Benedict (1914-22) tried unsuccessfully to avert WWI. Benedict will probably look for ways to bring world together.

Hope this helps, Old Zach.

10:57 PM


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