Saturday, January 24, 2009

Back In The Fold

Pope Benedict XVI has reinstated four Catholic bishops previously excommunicated by Pope John Paul II for their implacable opposition to liberalizing reforms. One of the bishops is a Holocaust denier. Jewish organizations are, predictably, outraged, but at this point I'm just resigned. Pope Benedict has also given greater prominence to a prayer wishing for the conversion of the Jews. Though I was optimistic at first, his tenure in office has been outrage after outrage.

So what else is new? I think institutional Christianity has long since proven that its default position is of hostility to Jews. Sometimes, it deviates, for a little while, but by and large it eventually reverts to the mean. The Catholic Church is no different, and I don't really think that these problems are ones that are traceable simply to this Pontiff. When Pope Benedict passes on, the odds are much, much better that his successor will be of his cut, rather than that of John Paul II.


Anonymous said...

As I understood it, Ratzinger's main competitors in the Papal elections were reformers. The idea was to elect Ratzinger, one of the oldest men ever to assume the Papacy, thinking that he probably wouldn't change much. The expectation was that the Ratzinger era would be a chance for John Paul's changes to settle in before the next wave of reforms started.

I shared this expectation based on the fact that he was the #2 guy under John Paul II, and de facto #1 guy when John Paul II got really old. The expectations turned out to be wrong, but as I understand it the reformers are still around, still influential, and still young enough that one of them is likely to be Pope after Benedict.

The Catholic Church is as diverse as anything. At any given time, about 75% of us are praying for the Pope to have a change of heart on a major issue. I'm in no position to comment on the position of the global majority of Catholics about anything. Probably, more than half aren't in active support of Israel, but neither are more than half of atheists or any other group. I dunno. I just feel like generalizations from a guy who was elected to be an interim leader are a bit facile. I also know about the other history there, and that it isn't pretty. But I think you're being a bit too dismissive of a LOT of very real progress a bit too easily.


PG said...

I'm less optimistic due to the bulk of active Catholicism shifting from Europe and North America toward Latin America, Africa and Asia. I suspect that the big change to come after Ratzinger will be having someone who isn't white. But it's unlikely that such a pope, coming from the fiercely conservative churches of the developing world, will liberalize the Church beyond forcing it to acknowledge this diversity more.

Anonymous said...

Was born, baptised and raised Catholic. Then I left the Church at age 16 for some seriously fundamental reasons and disagreements with Roman Catholic policies.

Over the years I've studied many organized religions, and religious cultures, comparing and questing. And today, nearly 60 years old, I still have serious fundamental differences with the Roman Catholic religious teachings.

But through my studies and questing, having met so very many people devoted to their particular denominations, sects, cultures, etc., I can honestly say that the majority of Christians are definitely not prejudiced against Jews. Quite the contrary. Although it would please most of them to welcome Jews as converts, when conversion is out of the question it does not inflame prejudices.

It is strictly the Roman Catholic Church that fosters such prejudices actively, which is part of the reason I have kept my distance. In fact, two weeks ago I was baptised into the Methodist church locally, and I can assure you that had I encountered prejudice of any kind against Jews, Blacks, etc., among the church members, I would not now be Methodist.

Bottom line, for me personally, is that I studied the history of all of these organized religions, and it was my conclusion that the Catholic religion has been the source and cause of many wars, hardships, abuse of non-Catholics and non-Christians, and so much more throughout history, from the Spanish Inquisitions, to the Crusades, on and on.

It's beyond me how people can quietly accept Rome's dictates knowing their history, and watching what's transpiring even now.

IMHO, it has been due to the Catholic Church's practices over the years that so much prejudice exists now, in the USA, against Christians in general, quite unfairly.

Anonymous said...

religiouse JEws should be more aware that xtianity is not our friend yet the right wing types proudly proclaim their "judeoxtian" values and pretty much seem to agree with the catholics on the abortion issue. IF they disagree I don't hear them saying so very loudly.
Meanwhile so many "leftwing" JEws agree with ISlam on the {Palestine" issue.
That's why it's refreshing to hear a "leftist liberal" voice that is not in lockstop with Islamic bus bombing militants!!!!!!
Now I just need to find some rightwing religious Jewish voices that aren't simpatico with xtian abortion clinic bombing militants!