Benedict XVIII

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I have opened a new category for my blog here. Under Roman or Catholic? I hope to post my thoughts on the Roman Catholic Church (in the form of letters to a friend thinking about returning to Rome). While some of these letters are not fictional, some of them will simply be in that form as a dramatic device. And those that are genuine will be altered so that no one will feel the need to identify the one I was writing to.

Early his week, Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope by the conclave of cardinals, and a number of secularoids went nuts. A genuine conservative, it looks as though he is going to uphold all the basic conservative tenets of John Paul II, and then some. When it comes to life issues (abortion, euthanasia, etc.), this is good. When it comes to opposition to totalitarianism, this is good. But evangelical Protestants need to be very careful. The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. Just because it makes feminists mad does not make something biblical. A moment’s reflection should show why this has to be the case. In the first place, everything makes feminists mad. (Q: “How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?” A: “That’s not funny!”)

The very thing that will make Joseph Ratzinger give the liberals in his church a run for their money is the same thing that will cause him to look at evangelical Protestants with a jaundiced eye. And so, ironically, the agreement that I have with Benedict XVI is also the ground of our disagreement. Because he is not a relativist, and neither are classical Protestants, we both believe the other to represent a deficient form of the Christian faith. Because he is not a relativist, honest disagreement with him is possible. But arguing with a relativist is a waste of time; it would be better to save your breath for cooling your porridge.

By the way, our disagreement even extends down to his Roman numerals. Three of the Benedicts that preceded the present occupant of the Vatican were antipopes. One of them, Benedict X, for some reason still got his number to count. But there were two Benedicts XIII and two Benedicts XIV. This means, by a fair-minded Protestant reckoning, the current pope is actually Benedict XVIII. But in the spirit of ecumenicity, I will conform to popular usage.

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