Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Pope Benedict XVI

As you must all know by now, we have a Pope, as is said. No doubt much will be said about him in the coming weeks and months. I have heard that his reputation is that he is such a serious thinker that he may have no equal. We think we know that John Paul II knew that. Here is Michael Novak (on NRO):

Ratzinger is on the same theological wavelength, of a more quiet German, Benedictine style. Munich is the city of the monks, and Ratzinger the scholar is never happier than in the monastic life of study and prayer and quiet. For him, service to the church is onerous labor. He has taken heart in the past from the image of a bear being turned into a beast of labor. He several times tried to resign from Rome and go back to teaching. By all reports, he is a superb teacher, open and challenging, deep and memorable, and everlastingly accessible to his former students. They all still meet yearly--or when they can.

He is a shy man, who draws back when others approach. He speaks very softly. He smiles easily, but his habitual look is that of someone in thought.


E.J. Dionne, writing before Ratzinger became Pope, argues that Ratzinger’s emphasis on "the dictatorship of relativism" is too hard-line, too conservative, might even be neo-conservative. There is no question where Ratzinger lined up in the culture wars, in short. I think Ratzinger is a great choice.

Discussions - 2 Comments

Dionne knows so little about the Catholic Church, it’s embarassing. He should stick to politics.

First of all, I didn’t know that those who accept that there is a God and just believe that truth exists are too conservative.

Secondly, Dionne and just about every other commentator out there just does not understand that Ratzinger/Benedict simply does not fit into neat categories of "liberal" and "conservative." Just like John Paul II, Ratzinger is an orthodox Catholic who believes in absolute truth but also serves the poor and is against the death penalty. They are also deeply spiritual and humble men. In short, they are Catholic, not conservative or liberal. The media did not, and still doesn’t understand John Paul - indeed, it often reviled him - Benedict should expect about the same. I guess only people who stand for relativism - nothing at all - can be orthodox and denounce others angrily for believing in something.

Peter’s right. It’s a great choice.

Peter, I know my prayers for Cardinal Ratzinger’s election were heard and answered as I wished. Deo gratias. In a more human vein, and inspired by Harvey Mansfield’s reflections on elections as revealing-and-defining choices, Ratzinger’s election speaks well of the college of cardinals that chose him. And - tracing the lineage back a bit - it speaks well of the predecessor who appointed (all but two of) them, as well as chose him to be the especial defender of the Faith. Take care.

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