Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Pope's First Hundred Days

RADIO FREE EUROPE/ RADIO LIBERTY offers a fair assessment. There's something quaint and humorous about references to American Presidents. Especially when they're applied to the Pope. It's as though The Vicar of Christ were yet another secular ruler subject to the people. Which, of course, quite a few Foolable people would prefer. Not to mention the Reasonable.

In spite of these peculiarities, I think Jeffery Donovan makes some good points. He notices that the Pope has shaken the image that MSM was so determined to forge for him. Instead, he's allowed the world to see the warmth that he always possessed. They must be furious. Mr. Donovan also comments on the meandering ecumenicism that the Holy Father embraces:
In waging his war on relativism, Benedict appears to be looking to the Orthodox churches as an ally. His predecessor, John Paul II, made great efforts to reunite the main branches of Christianity, which split in 1054. But few expected Benedict to follow him so strongly, as Allen points out.

“This is a man who in his 24 years as head of the doctrinal office in the Vatican was always very concerned about reinforcing Catholic identity and Catholic distinctiveness, and therefore was never seen as a particularly ecumenical figure," Allen says. "And yet, he has made it abundantly clear that he sees this as a top priority of his pontificate and, above all, he wants to improve relations with the Orthodox Church, trying to heal this millennium-old split.”

Ironically, the pope also has another ally in his battle against secularism: Islam. But Allen says that for Benedict, as a cardinal who has expressed opposition to Muslim Turkey joining the European Union, relations with Islam are a balancing act.

“You know the old political adage, ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ And in that sense, I think Ratzinger perceives a friend in Islam in the struggle against secularism," Allen says. "On the other hand, he also does not want Europe to become an outpost of Islamic culture. So he’s going to try to walk this fine line between the sort of philosophical and theological common cause with Islam, while at the same time try to some extent to hold Islam at arm’s length in his own backyard, which is Europe.”
It's not difficult to understand the Pope's approach. Humanity faces a pincer move by the enemy. The Reasonable forces of secularization and Great-I-Am-ness promote the Dictatorship of Relativism on one side. Fanatic extremism by islamo-fascists terrorize the innocent on the other. The Pope seeks unity with the Orthodox and religious Muslims to confront the Dictatorship of Relativism, on the one hand. He hopes to re-invigorate Europe's Christian heritage so that Europe preserves its identity in the face of islamo-fascists and fundamentalist islamic immigrants, on the other hand. Ideas have consequences, after all, and the Pope understands that Truth needs to be embodied. Otherwise, we can expect no culture of Life or civilization of Love to rise.

Some Catholics expected the Pope to drive out dissenters. Others expected him to reform recalcitrant Bishops. It's clear that dissenters on the Catholic "right" and "left" condemn the Pope's ministry so far. That's reason enough for me to be grateful to God for him! I'm also happy that he confronts the threats to our humanity by boldly proclaiming the truth about God and abour ourselves. I'm happy that he seeks the witness of those that also seek truth, however imperfectly. Solidarity to Truth and Love is what defeats the plans of the Enemy. Pope Benedict XVI reminds us of this in his words and his actions.