Thursday, April 21, 2005

Marxism is Bad for the Church!

Catholic Church's reason for not choosing a Pope from Latin America. So they're selective about helping the poor. *harrumph*

Pasted this from NY Times: Enjoy! - kb

In Selection of New Pope, Third World Loses OutBy LARRY ROHTER Published: April 20, 2005, New York Times

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 19 - Not this time, not yet. Though a majority of Roman Catholics now live in Latin America, Africa and Asia, those among the faithful who were openly hoping for a pope from the developing world were disappointed.
But that sense of popular disappointment stood in contrast to the notable enthusiasm for the selection of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger among the episcopal conferences in every country in this region, which speak in the name of Latin America's hundreds of bishops.
Dominated by theological conservatives whom Pope John Paul II appointed, the conferences can now expect increased Vatican support in their efforts to counter two important challenges: evangelical Protestantism and the remnants of liberation theology.
At the popular level, the initial response to the designation of Cardinal Ratzinger as the new pope was muted throughout Latin America, where 480 million of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics live.
Television networks that had been covering the conclave live from Rome in anticipation that someone from this region might be chosen as pope quickly returned to their normal programming after the announcement. Newspapers and radio stations recalled that the new pope's nicknames include Cardinal No and the Grand Inquisitor, references to his former role as enforcer of church doctrine. "They were never going to elect a pope from Latin America or Africa," Guilherme Marra, a salesman here, lamented Tuesday afternoon. "The church is frozen in time," Mr. Marra, 37, complained. "Imagine electing a radical pope who is against condoms!"
But among the church hierarchy, at least here in Brazil, which has the world's largest Roman Catholic population, the prospect of an even more doctrinaire and conservative successor to John Paul II has already emboldened traditionalists. Last week, for example, two cardinals criticized President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, saying that his beliefs were "not Catholic but chaotic" and that he was "not a model Christian."
Like the leaders of several other Latin American countries, Mr. da Silva has taken positions that differ from church teachings on abortion, homosexuality, contraception and stem cell research. Cardinal Ratzinger's support for an unyielding stance on those and other issues would seem likely to increase the prospect of conflicts between church and state.
It is not clear how Pope Benedict XVI intends to respond to the growth of Islam in Africa and Asia, where most of the increase in the number of Catholics during the papacy of John Paul II occurred. But the Catholic flock in those places tends to be more doctrinally conservative than in Latin America, and expressed fewer reservations about the choice of Cardinal Ratzinger.
"You need a man of values," said Alfred Jantjies, a South African truck driver. "It's no good to have a man in the church who lets in wrong ideas, like women priests or priests getting married. A man of God must know he has taken a tough life and stick to it without trying to be all modern. The new pope sounds like a man who understands what worked in the past and won't try and change it."
In the days before the conclave, some priests and bishops in Latin America made public their doubts about Cardinal Ratzinger's willingness to bring about the change that they thought the church needed. As John Paul II's right-hand man, he was often seen as the standard-bearer of what some critics in the region are calling "Wojtylism without Wojtyla," a reference to Karol Wojtyla, who became John Paul II.
"I don't think he has the charisma of John Paull II with the masses, because he has always been an intellectual," said the Rev. Jesús Vergara, the director general of Centro Tata Vasco, a Jesuit institution in Mexico City. "For example, the trips of John Paul II throughout Latin America. Well, Latin America is going to feel a lot of grief because I don't think Ratzinger has the personality to win over most of the people in Latin America as John Paul did."
As leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger has been very much a known quantity to all cardinals and bishops and to many priests. In that capacity, he has played an important role in suppressing liberation theology, which draws on Marxism in its call for the church to follow a "preferential option for the poor" and transform unjust structures that perpetuate social inequality and poverty.
"It seems to me that we need not a theology of liberation, but a theology of martyrdom," he said in 1997.
In 1984, for instance, it was Cardinal Ratzinger who oversaw the Vatican decree that forced Leonardo Boff, a former Franciscan friar and a leading theoretician of liberation theology, to silence himself for "an opportune period." Dr. Boff, once a student of Cardinal Ratzinger, was deemed to lack "serenity" and "moderation" in his writings, which were said to be guided not by faith but by "principles of an ideological nature."
Dr. Boff, who resigned as a cleric in 1992 and now teaches theology and ethics at a state university here, has complained of what he called "the arrogance and doctrinal fundamentalism" of John Paul II. But he has been an even sharper critic of Cardinal Ratzinger, describing him in a recent essay as "the exterminator of the future of ecumenism" and "the petrified expression" of the dominance of the Roman Curia within the church.
With Cardinal Ratzinger at the helm of the church, conservatives can expect even greater support for movements like Opus Dei and Communion and Liberation, which are strong in places like Chile and Peru. In 2001, John Paul II appointed the first Opus Dei member to become a cardinal, Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne of Lima, and seven of that country's bishops belong to Opus Dei.
Bishop Raul Vera of Saltillo, who in the 1990's practiced the liberation theology in southern Mexico that was criticized by Pope John Paul II, said the cardinals had made a safe choice and turned a blind eye to the confusion in the Americas about what direction the church was taking.
"The cardinals were thinking about security," he said. "And they were also thinking about someone who would complete the papacy of John Paul II."
The new pope will also be under pressure from conservative clergy and lay people to act to brake the advance of evangelical Protestantism, which is on the march everywhere in Latin America. Here in Brazil the percentage of people declaring themselves as Catholics has fallen from more than 90 percent in 1970 to barely 70 percent, with a corresponding increase in the number of Protestants.
Not only has the new pope criticized Protestantism on a doctrinal basis, he has also accused the World Council of Churches of "harming the life of the gospel" by offering financial assistance to what he called "subversive movements" in Latin America. While that may animate conservatives in the church, it may also increase tensions.
"For some who would be looking for strong, centralized control, an orthodox church focused on orthodoxy in the faith, those people I think will be very happy," said Bishop Kevin Dowling, an official of the Southern African Bishops Conference. "For people who were looking for a church that would be open to debate and discussing and reflecting on some of the crucial issues of modern times, those people may have concerns."

Michael Wines contributed reporting from Johannesburg for this article, and James C. McKinley Jr. from Mexico City.


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