That, at least, is one view in this morning’s Washington Post. Ashley McGuire explains:
Sorry to be a wet blanket, but the Catholic Church is not going to change its teaching on any of the fun stuff (contraception, female “ordination,” homosexuality, abortion, etc.) with the next pope.
Nor will it ever.
When news of the pope’s retirement broke, Nicholas Kristof pondered on Twitter: “At some point, the church will accept contraception and female and non-celibate priests. Could it be in the next papacy?” Countless groups issued press releases clamoring for a “progressive” pope. The Rainbow Sash Movement called for the next pope to stop emphasizing “purity.” The Women’s Ordination Conference announced it would hold vigils and raise pink smoke to raise awareness of the need for “female priests.” I can’t wait to see what Maureen Dowd will say.
So while most Catholics worldwide heard the news of the pope stepping down and gave him a giant, global air-hug, a few dissenting groups used the news to get attention by banging their pans and loudly rejecting church teaching and disrespecting the head of their faith. It was unkind.
Mr. Kristof and friends are wringing their hands about what we call “irreformable, infallible moral teachings of the ordinary magisterium.”
He might want to look that up.
In layman’s terms: What the church’s critics, especially those now giddily wondering if Pope Benedict’s successor will shake things up, just don’t seem to understand, is that church teachings on these issues are unchangeable.
Even if we entertain the human possibility of a rogue pope, the reality is such a thing is currently sociologically impossible. About half of the current College of Cardinals (the men who will select the next pope) were appointed by Blessed Pope John Paul II. The other half were put there by Pope Benedict XVI. As you can imagine, they are all orthodox, or faithful to church teaching. On everything.
While most editorial pages have spent the last eight years harping on Catholic social teaching and running hit pieces on bishops and the pope, Benedict has been filling the ranks with shepherds who will continue the church’s 2,000-plus year tradition of holding firm on the most important social issues.
And not only will the church remain orthodox with Pope Benedict’s successor, it should.