Friday, April 22, 2005

Branch-stacking pays off in the Vatican

I've only a few moments to spare, so here are my two cents on Benedict XVI . . .

Apparently the cornerstone the new papacy will be a war on secularism and the "dictatorship of relativism." We can safely predict, then, that under Herr Ratzinger the Church will sink further into the mire of Culture War rhetoric. We're also told to expect a few surprises from Pope Benedict, who wants to revitalise the faith in Catholicism's "dark Continent." My prediction: He will fail miserably. And that will come as a surprise only to his hard-Right cheerleaders.

Ratzinger just doesn't understand secularism. Nor does he understand relativism, if he's going to bandy about oxymorons such as "dictatorship of relativism," and slap non-relativist ideologies like individualism, Marxism and liberalism with the "relativist" tag. Secularism and relativism are vital to religious freedom and religious harmony, and Europeans know this. Most Catholics know this. If the Pope wishes to arrest the downsizing of his Church in the West--a phenomenon which accelerated on his watch as Prefect of the Inquisition-cum-Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith--he should appreciate this too.