To defeat the church, foment hatred of Benedict

Jonah Goldberg makes an excellent point:

But my guess is that won’t be happening any time soon, and not just because Ratzinger’s the new pope. Some believe there is a radical left wing in the Catholic Church that seeks to unravel the teachings of John Paul II, but this is an exaggeration of the Western – particularly, the American – press. The notion that you could find any cardinal eager to change church policy on abortion, for example, is simply a fantasy concocted by liberal journalists. Excepting, perhaps, the issue of distributing condoms in Africa, it’s hard to think of a hot-button social issue that divides the church’s leadership a fraction as much as American editorial pages seem to suggest.

If a committee made up of Andrew Sullivan, Gary Wills, Andrew Greeley, Paul Begala and Nancy Pelosi were given the power to select a pope from the current College of Cardinals, we would still have a pope opposed to abortion and gay marriage.

Ding, ding, ding! Give that man a seegar!!!

I read this and find affirmation of what I have been thinking since yesterday, that the howls and putting on of sackcloth and ashes at the election of Joseph Ratzinger as new pope is a bit of a red herring. Yes, they don’t like Benedict XVI – they never did and never would.

But I think all this hoo-hah is less about Benedict than about the Catholic Church, itself. That darned, immovable Church which refuses to lay down and obey, or to tumble.

As long as the obstinate Church refuses to get on board with the times, the progressive agenda cannot go forward without examination and debate. That is unpleasant to people who simply don’t like hearing the word “NO” unless it is coming from their own lips.

I don’t believe the progressives really expected a pope who would be markedly different from John Paul the Great on matters of doctrine and morality. They couldn’t be that naive. They had to know that the next pope, whoever he was, would still not please them.

No, I think most of this is just a temper tantrum against the church-that-won’t-go-away. These folks are fuming because they saw that JPII stood against their agendas, and that they were quite, quite powerless against him because….well, because he was so BELOVED.

Ergo. Make Pope Benedict easy to hate. He (and the Church) will be much easier to move against if the pope is hated, rather than loved.

I can’t help it. I’m liking him more and more.

UPDATE: Media Research Center looks back on some of the things said about John Paul II over the years. Interesting reading. One excerpt:

A 1989 meeting between Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev and the Pope gave CBS and ABC an opportunity to take moral equivalence to absurd new heights. During the November 29, 1989 CBS Evening News, Dan Rather declared, “This week’s meeting of Pope John Paul and Gorbachev brings together two traditional enemies, both of whom have shown, time and again, that they can rise above the hatreds of history.” Rather went on to lay the most ridiculous metaphor before a national audience: “The meeting, said one priest in Rome, is like the lion lying down with the lamb. But in this case, he said, it’s hard to tell who’s the lion and who’s the lamb.” (It was almost as odd as Time essayist Lance Morrow’s intoxicated January 1, 1990 take on Mikhail Gorbachev as the “Communist Pope and the Soviet Martin Luther.”)

The comparisons to communism erupted again in 1991, when in early June, the Pope visited Poland for the fourth time. Instead of delivering an even-handed account of the new tensions in post-communist Poland, CBS reporter Bert Quint ended his June 1 Evening News report by suggesting the new society in some respects was inferior to the old: “But most of his fellow countrymen do not share John Paul’s concept of morality….Many here expect John Paul to use his authority to support Church efforts to ban abortion, perhaps the country’s principal means of birth control. And this, they say, could deprive them of a freedom of choice the communists never tried to take away from them.”

FINALLY: Pastorius at CUANAS (Let me spell out the meaning of the acronym: CHRISTIANS UNITED AGAINST the NEW ANTI-SEMITISM) who knows a bit about anti-semitism, defends Benedict against the spurious and silly charges of being a nazi.

UPDATE: Even my eyebrows went up to see that Peggy Noonan has written (in much finer prose than my scribblings) essentially the same thing I’ve said in this post, that “they” are doing all they can to make sure we do not LOVE this pope.

The choosing of Benedict XVI, a man who is serious, deep and brave, is a gift. He has many enemies. They imagine themselves courageous and oppressed. What they are is agitated, aggressive, and well-connected.

They want to make sure his papacy begins with a battle. They want to make sure no one gets a chance to love him. Which is too bad because even his foes admit he is thoughtful, eager for dialogue, sensitive, honest.

Yes! Thank you, Ms. Noonan for saying it so much better than I could!

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About Elizabeth Scalia