TheSun.jpgBoy, when I wrote a piece for The American Spectator suggesting that the next pope not allow most priests to marry, I had no idea that we’d have a new pope so quickly, or that he would be so very likely to resist most calls to reform. The piece may be the fastest-rotting piece of punditry I have ever produced, though that didn’t stop readers from giving it to me good in Reader Mail.

Andrew Sullivan, the blogger Time tapped to profile Benedict XVI, was beside himself on Tuesday. He called it an “insular and regressive choice” and speculated that the infamous voting-rules change (which would allow a simple majority to prevail after a ridiculously long period of deadlock) had a lot to do with Ratzinger’s election. Sullivan said a lot of other things, but here was my favorite bit:

THE FUNDAMENTALIST TRIUMPH: And so the Catholic church accelerates its turn toward authoritarianism, hostility to modernity, assertion of papal supremacy and quashing of internal debate and dissent. We are back to the nineteenth century. Maybe this is a necessary moment. Maybe pressing this movement to its logical conclusion will clarify things. But those of us who are struggling against what our Church is becoming, and the repressive priorities it is embracing, can only contemplate a form of despair. The Grand Inquisitor, who has essentially run the Church for the last few years, is now the public face. John Paul II will soon be seen as a liberal. The hard right has now cemented its complete control of the Catholic church. And so . . . to prayer. What else do we now have?

And, compared to his mates in the British press, Sullivan took it easy on the Vatican. The Sun, for instance, led with the fact that the current pope was at one point a Hitler Youth.

The somewhat less sensational [And less British -- ed.] Jerusalem Post jumped to his defense. And I quote:

The choice of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new pope on Tuesday, Jewish religious leaders say, is a sign that the warming ties initiated by Pope John Paul II between the Vatican and Jews will continue.

Oh but try telling that to the American press. I’ve seen the leading edge of the first reports and columns in my fair country, and the mood can politely be described as irate. More to come, or, as Matt Drudge would say, developing . . .

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  • Fr Joseph Huneycutt

    At this point in his — dare I say it — evolution, whatever’s bad enough for Andrew Sullivan is good enough for me.

  • http://blogs.salon.com/0003494/ Bartholomew

    I was surpised, but in retrospect, Ratzinger was obvious. It would be odd to go on about how John Paul II ‘s legacy needs to be continued, and then to reject the man who’s been running the show for the past few years.

    And as a Vatican bureaucrat, we can be fairly sure that there are no pastoral misjudgments concerning child-abusing priests lurking in the closet (such as the one that nearly did for Cormac Murphy-O’Connor when he took over from Basil Hume).

    Not that that means I’m a fan. My favourite Ratzinger quote comes from Peter Hebblethwaite: “One would not buy a used theology manual from [Ratzinger], or entrust him with the theological education of one’s daughter.”

  • Stephen A.

    Gee, how dare the Catholic Church actually elect a pope that will uphold its traditions and teachings! Outrage!

    I’m sure some groups will want to have some high-level consultations, hold “re-imagining the faith” workshops and a begin a “national conversation” about this shocking turn of events.

    The hounds of secularism and radical individualism are howling since their biggest nemesis – the one who dares utter their name in public and call them to account – has been given the highest profile in the world.

  • bob smietana


    Here’s a question for you, as a media critic. How do reporters write about the pressing problems of the church–the priest shortage crisis, the number of parishes without resident priests, and the sharp decline in mass attendance, to name a few–and be hard nose, fair and objective without being dismissed as “liberal’ or “secularists” or “radical individualists.” There are serious problems which won’t go away, and answers like– encourage more Catholics to pursue vocations– won’t avert the priest shortfall. A fair reporter would ask questions like, “What’s worse: no priests or married priests?” and point to the success of married clergy among Protestants–while there are flaws in that systems, Protestants have enough clergy.

    BTW I’m on the opposite side of your spiritual journey–from Catholic to a free church pietist

  • http://www.ecben.net Gillimer

    Recall that the Sun is the paper known chiefly for featuring a naked woman on page three. (Note the other “story” featured.) Adverting to the roll of newspapers from “Yes, Prime Minister”…

    and the people who read the Sun don’t care who runs the country as long as she has …. uh, huge tracts of land.

  • http://davemunger.blogspot.com Dave Munger

    “Suggesting that the next Pope not allow most priests to marry”. So THAT’S who’s idea that was! From now on I’m reffering everyone who dosen’t like that doctrine to Jeremy.

    At least Sullivan wasn’t gobsmacked.

    Damnint Bob, I’M on the opposite track, I’m turning into a Jewptist over here.

  • http://showard1.blogspot.com Samuel J. Howard

    I’m not sure it’s entirely clear that The Sun’s cover was anti-Catholic. Sensationalist, yes. But, Rupert Murdoch, who owns the Sun is a papal knight. Now, I’ve just seen the cover, not read the article, but sounds more “story of redemption” to me than “Pope a Nazi”.

  • Michael R. Zboray


    You were pretty much right about priest maried priests.
    If it were to happen, current priest would not be allowed to marry, current married men would be.
    However, you forgot to mention that it would be very likely that the new priest and his wife would need to vow perpetual abstinance from marital relations. Just as the original presbyters (also known as “old men” http://www.allwords.com/word-presbyter.html) did in the early church.

    For a 35 year old man and his wife, this would be an extrodinary sacrifice, but for a 65 year old man, it would be sacrifice that could be grasped.

    God bless