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April 21, 2005


Pope Benedict XVI

Cycle of Evil: Ed Paschke
One can only wonder, worry, about how deeply the new pope's experience under the Nazis influenced him. He was 18 when the war ended, and it appears that his experience has resulted in a strong transference of those persecutory influences to his view of the function of the church.

Having seen fascism in action, Ratzinger today clearly seems to believe that the best antidote to political totalitarianism is ecclesiastical totalitarianism. In other words, he believes the Catholic Church serves the cause of human freedom by restricting freedom in its (and, therefore, our own) internal life, thereby remaining clear about what it teaches and believes.

Another dangerous form of totalitarianism, indeed, observant critics might say.

Ratzinger has chastised a long list of theologians for straying from official doctrine; his condemnation of "relativism," or the belief that other denominations and faiths can genuinely lead equally to salvation; his strident and venemous denunciation of liberation theology, gay rights and feminism; his attempt to rein in, control and dominate national bishops' conferences; his belief that the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, which led to a near-revolutionary modernization of the church, has brought corrosive excesses.

Hans Kueng, one of the theologians who ran afoul of him, has called his ideology a "medieval, anti-Reformation, anti-modern paradigm of the church and the papacy. To have him as pope will...mean that the church is absolutely unable to reform itself."

One can only wonder, worry...and worry.

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