Benedict XVI’s new friends: Greenpeace and the Socialists

Benedict XVI’s new friends: Greenpeace and the Socialists January 13, 2012

The Pope continues to defy the cramped ideological templates of the Land Where There Are Only Two Sides to Every Question. John Allen writes about the conservative-and-liberal-talking-head-asplodey remarks of the pontiff:

Pope Benedict XVI today delivered his annual address to diplomats accredited to the Vatican, which is the premier occasion for popes to lay out their geopolitical agenda. In terms of issues, Benedict identified three priorities: defense of the family, religious freedom, and protection of the environment.

From the get-go, the list is reminder that the social and political concerns of the Catholic church, and of this pope, don’t fit neatly into any ideological formation. Anyone paying even a modest amount of attention, however, should already know that.

What’s more interesting about this morning’s speech is the intriguing hint it offers that the politics of the “culture wars” are being subtly, but surely, redefined.

In the context of the family, Benedict XVI struck the usual notes: marriage as a union between a man and a woman, abortion as a threat to the “future of humanity.” If things hold to form, that language will be cheered by social conservatives in the West and either ignored or excoriated by liberals.

The twist came when the pontiff identified two developments in the past year he sees as especially encouraging:
•An October decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union banning the commercial patenting of embryonic stem cells.
•A resolution adopted in the same month by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe condemning prenatal selection on the basis of sex.

The fascinating point is that in both cases, political support in Europe for these moves came from the left, not the right. The legal complaint which led to the Court of Justice ban on patenting embryos was brought by the German branch of Greenpeace, while the parliamentary resolution on prenatal selection was introduced by a Swiss Socialist and feminist named Doris Stump.

In other words, Benedict XVI used his showcase political speech to applaud breakthroughs achieved by Greenpeace and the Socialists.

How fun! The Faith routinely does this sort of stuff to our neat little systems of order.

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