Viva il Papa: "Hardliner" Ratzinger is the first German Pope in Centuries
Germany's Catholics Will Almost Certainly Be Divided Over Pope Benedict XVI
At the moment, the German media is overwhelmed by the fact that Joseph Ratzinger is the first Pope from Germany in nearly five-hundred years. A sense of pride and surprise seem to be the initial reactions. Here are just a few headlines in the German press:
Die Welt: Josef Ratzinger is the New Pope
Stern: Reactions: "Great Honor for Germany"
FOCUS: New Pope: Habemus Joseph Ratzinger
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Rome: Vatican Celebrates the New Pope
N24: Schroeder Praises Ratzinger as "Great Theologist"
Sueddeutsche: Pope Benedict XVI: Relief through the Fast Announcement
But the surprise and joy are already giving way to the first grumblings, and a sharp debate over the deeply conservative theological stance of the new Pope has already begun.
Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, has always been known as the hard-line enforcer of his predecessor John Paul II's conservative policies. This is sure to cause significant friction with Catholics living in the Western world and German Catholics in particular. Disagreements over birth-control, abortion, celibacy, women in the priesthood and a number of other hot-button issues will likely intensify within the church in the very near future.
On another note, Germany's conspiracy theorists are also likely to come up with an elaborate explanation of how Bush, the CIA and the neo-cons planned the entire election to create divisions within Germany and the "progressive-wing" of the Catholic Church. Antje Vollmer of the Green party is also certain to have an explanation for these latest developments as well.
Update from David, (article above by Ray D.): The Tuesday evening news of ARD, Germany's #1 public tv station, present results of an ad hoc telephone survey (sample size 500): while most Germans welcome the election of a German pope, a majority consider him too old. Also, almost 90 % want him to "reform" the church - "reform" being defined along a liberal agenda (ordination of women, ecomenic approaches, etc.).
Our friend DL from Heidelberg comments on the election of a German pope:
Can A German Pope Save Old Europe?
There are a number of interpretations as to why
Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope. But in spite of
all the hand wringing from the left about how he needs
to (take your pick) modernize the institution; reach
out to disgruntled Catholics; address the needs of the
third world; or accomplish all of the above by passing
out condoms; the real reason a German has been made
Pope is to save Old Europe from self-destruction. As
the home of the institution, perhaps Europe will
listen to one of its own at a time when it acts as
though the last two thousand years of its history
never happened. It brings to mind Voltaire’s quip
about the Holy Roman Empire being neither holy, Roman,
nor an empire. The European Union is one step away
from establishing itself as neither European nor
France has proposed the EU codify what it has long
since practiced. Old Europe has a curious notion of
the separation between church and state. Not only
does the state believe the two should be separated, it
has become hostile to everything for which the church
stands. After much debate, the French draft EU
constitution will not acknowledge Europe’s Christian
roots in order to divorce itself from the Church-based
values that made modern democracy possible. The
results of this drive for secularization have placed
Old Europe on a downward spiral that its political
elites refuse to acknowledge. The Church’s decision
to promote Ratzinger is a gamble he can reverse the
trend because these trends are most pronounced in
In order to save Europe from itself Ratzinger will
have to confront a number of European post-war
developments that are actively supported by Euro-state
policies. First, he will have to find a way to return
Europeans to Church. Go to any cathedral in old
Europe and it will be filled with tourists and only
tourists. In Germany, they have found a way to
collect donations without requiring physical
attendance through the use of a Church tax. And while
it may sooth the individual conscience, donating money
to the church via payroll deduction does little to
bond believers to the community or provide
opportunities to hear about and discuss church values.
He will have to find a way to re-instill those church
values necessary for the survival of European society.
Given Europe’s suicidal demographics, he will need to
emphasize the importance of the family and children.
Old Europe has eliminated the need for the social
contract between generations and the need for children
through the creation of overly generous state pension
schemes. The family has been replaced by bureaucrats
who administer tax funded benefits.
Most important, Ratzinger must remind Old Europe of
its history. Europe as it exists today could not have
happened without the Church of Rome. Everything that
makes Europe unique among the nations of the earth is
directly linked to the historical development of the
Christian church and the propagation of its values. It
is impossible to imagine Europe of the past without
its Church. And if Europe’s leaders insist on
ignoring their German Pope, it will be impossible to
imagine a Europe of the future.