Pope thoughts (long)

Someone on my friends list put in a locked post:

In a startling bit of news, the 2000 year old bureacracy based in Rome, virtually the last relic of a society founded nearly three thousand years ago, the final echo of Classical civilization, has elected to steer a conservative path. I know _I_ was completely taken by surprise.
Beautiful poem in medieval Latin by , illuminated by .

regrets that:

I had planned a minor part for him as a hitman for the mystical-nut branch of the Gestapo in the 1963 frame story of my alternate-WWII novel, on the assumption that he would continue being a pretty obscure figure. Not at all sure I still want to do that.
Meanwhile , stretching beyond breaking point an analogy used by several others, opines:
I reckon Benedict XVI will be the Chernenko of Catholicism. Dead within a year and replaced by a younger reformist. Hang on, was John Paul II supposed to be the younger reformist? That’ll make Ratzinger Boris Yeltsin, then. No, that analogy fails on every level.

Tell you what, he can be one of the hardliners who briefly overthrew Gorbachev in a failed coup.

The Catholic Church is a bit like the Soviet Union, as long as you ignore all the details. That’s what I’m saying.

has a considered collection of links.

has been pondering the personal consequences:

More deeply than this, the advent of Benedict XVI is making me re-evaluate exactly what I do believe about Authority and Revelation, about Scripture, Tradition and Reason, about why I am not just a Catholic but a Roman Catholic.

In the Guardian, Timothy Garton Ash predicts:

…this aged, scholarly, conservative, uncharismatic Bavarian theologian will surely hasten precisely the de-Christianisation of Europe that he aims to reverse. At the end of his papacy, Europe may again be as un-Christian as it was when St Benedict, one of the patron saints of Europe, founded his pioneering monastic order, the Benedictines, 15 centuries ago… Europe is now the most secular continent on earth… An American Baptist missionary website puts things in perspective. “Western Europe,” it states, “is … one of the world’s most difficult mission fields. Most missiologists compare it to the Muslim-held Middle East when it comes to responsiveness to the gospel.” Voltaire would be proud of us.

Finally, a point that occurred to me and that I haven’t seen covered by anyone else. Does anyone else find it weird that, rather than fuming abut the Whore of Babylon and idolatry, American evangelicals seemed to embrace John Paul II and now Benedict XVI as valued and worthy allies in the wider battle against liberalism? Has this been a recent development, or was it always there and I just didn’t notice because of the blinkers I acquired with my Northern Ireland upbringing?

(I should say that I don’t perceive the Vatican as having similar cuddly feelings about the American right; a two thousand year old institution with nominally over four times the US population among its adherents has seen a lot of them come and go over the centuries.)

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