Round up the usuals

Round up the usuals

Carl Olson finds an article in the Baltimore Sun chock full of ignorant cracks at Pope Benedict. From Fr. Tom Reese, SJ, to Ibrahim Hooper of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a whole panoply of small-minded men are lobbing grenades at Pope Benedict because of his Regensberg speech.

Reese says that the Pope doesn’t have “street smarts” and doesn’t realize he’s pope yet. Hooper says Benedict doesn’t measure up to John Paul II, who was very solicitous to Muslims and never criticized them. Really? Carl finds some very pointed criticisms of Islam by John Paul, including excerpts from his book, “Crossing the Threshold of Hope”. (Which, if you’ll remember, was noted at the time for another controversy related to offending another religion, although that time it was Buddhism.)

Here’s Carl’s summary of the criticisms:

• Benedict doesn’t realize he is pope. This is because Germans, especially German academics (as opposed to American academics), have a hard time comprehending that they were actually elected pope. Whether this is due to excessive stupidity or humility is not clear.

• Benedict doesn’t have “street smarts,” which is to say, I’m guessing, that he never was the editor of America magazine.

• He’s not political enough, and is too “theologically oriented.” And when it comes to the spiritual leadership of a billion Christians, that simply won’t do.

• He’s not John Paul II. And we know that everyone — and I mean everyone — loved everything that John Paul II ever said or did. I dare you to find proof to the contrary.

• He’s too Christian in his thinking. Again, this won’t make the cut when it comes to being pope. A pope today really must be a pope of all people; he must a Hindu pope, a Muslim pope, a Jewish pope, an atheist pope.

• He’s not an expert on the history of religions. This, again, from the chairman of the “theology” department at Georgetown. Take it or leave it.

• His work as head of the CDF was so narrow, he’s having difficulty understanding what it means to be pope. As for the fact that he has been a priest for over fifty years, was a theological expert at Vatican II, one of the greatest Catholic (nay, Christian) theologians of the 20th century, an archbishop, and a high-ranking Vatican leader, and one of John Paul II’s trusted advisors. Well, that’s nice, but he’s going to have to stop focusing on Christian theology and ideas. Who does he think he is, the pope?!

On the other hand, the same article does include a statement from Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore offering a (measured) defense of Pope Benedict. First one I’ve read from an American ordinary. Has anyone else see a statement from their bishop?

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Domenico Bettinelli
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