Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Habemus Papam

"You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need."

So, I wanted a liberal Pope. From what I know of the Cardinals, Benedict XVI wouldn't have been my first choice. Nor my second, nor my third, nor even a favoured compromise (yes, I like liberal cardinals). Yet I have read the liberal press's denunciation of Joseph Ratzinger with dismay. In particular, the focus of some of the English guttter press on his history as having been a member of the Hitler Youth and the German Army during WW2 I have found ridiculous. Firstly, it wasn't as if he exactly had a choice in the matter, and secondly, there are far more things that they could attack him for if they really wanted to. To focus on what he was made to do by an evil regime when he was very young is lazy journalism of the worst kind.

Additionally, the press keep propounding the story that "the biggest problem facing the Church is how to tackle poverty in the Third World." Well, the election of Cardinal Ratzinger suggests otherwise. In fact, it is tackling the lack of spirituality the world over, with particular focus on the First World, that his election would suggest is the major issue the Catholic Church wants to address. Far from it being a papacy that will bend over backwards to reach out to other faiths, my guess would be that Ratzinger will instead try and embark on a period of theological orthodoxy and focus on what he considers to be the essential teachings of the church. He won't have the common touch and the public persona John Paul II had, but then again I doubt he would want it that way either.

The immediate detractors of Pope Benedict XVI should remember that God moves in mysterious ways, however. Who would really have thought that the Son of God would be born to the family of a carpenter in a stable in Nazareth? Who would have suggested that a frail old man with a very public suffering would do so much to restore an image of dignity to the Church? I have my own opinions of how the Catholic Church could try and restore the declining spirituality of the West - in short, to focus on good works, good thoughts, and concentrating less on regulating the actions of an individual's life. Not that my opinion counts for much. What cannot be denied, however, is that Cardinal Ratzinger has his own thoughts on this. And for all that liberals may be disappointed by the election of "God's Rottweiler", they might be inclined to remember that the best is often the enemy of the good.