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Church or State, Which Rules?

Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

    This week the Catholic Church chose Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to be their next Pope. He will be known as Pope Benedict XVI, a new name but not a new man. If I were a Catholic I would be alarmed by some of his far right stance. Pope Benedict XVI does not seem amused with dissent.

He wrote a letter of advice to U.S. bishops on denying communion to politicians who support abortion rights, which some observers viewed as a slam at Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry. He publicly cautioned Europe against admitting Turkey to the European Union and wrote a letter to bishops around the world justifying that stand on the grounds that the continent is essentially Christian in nature. In another letter to bishops worldwide, he decried a sort of feminism that makes women “adversaries” of men The Washington Post

    The Agnosticism/Atheism Blog nicknamed him, “The Enforcer.”

He's been head of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Inquisition) for more than 20 years and he has been described as being even more zealous in the defense of orthodoxy than the pope himself. . . . has also condemned Buddhism, Hinduism and other Eastern religions as offering false hope through “auto-erotic spirituality”, accused the media of exaggerating the extent of the pedophilia scandals in the North American Church.

    I know that many will find the quote of an Agnostic or Atheist source as suspect. It would be unlikely that they would have anything good to say about any Christian so lets see what Christianity Today has to say about him.

 Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said Ratzinger will be an ally of U.S. religious conservatives on a litany of moral issues such as abortion, gay rights, cloning and physician-assisted suicide.

    The rosy picture that some conservative want to paint of the new Pope does not match their previous rhetoric. Where the action of a youth should often be forgiven and overlooked, this has not been the attitude of the far right. How many times have we heard a Neo-Con blasting Senator Byrd for having joined the KKK as a teen? There is no sympathy or compassion even though he quit it shortly after and said it was the worst mistake of his life. I wonder if they will take the same attitude with the new Pope?

At the age of 14, he joined the Hitler Youth, as was required of young Germans of the time, but was not an enthusiastic member. (The Times of India) Schooled in the Nazis' power of rhetoric during his childhood in Bavaria, the Pope later deserted the German Army during World War II, only to be sent to a POW camp when the Allies reached his hometown. (BBC)

    Do not misunderstand me, I just find the hypocrisy upsetting. The Pope has a long standing Fan Club which makes it is difficult to think that he would still hold those Nazi views. The problem I have is with him wanting to push his believes on the American citizenry. These are his own words:

Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist. (Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion. General Principles, by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger)

   So the question is, should the Church dictate public policy to the State? Do you think it is right for any religion to deny those who vote contrary to the opinion of the Church?