Archive for April 18th, 2005

The Cardinal Prophet

Ratzinger, I mean. Apropos his apparent strong role in the conclave, a few examples of his prophetic insight.

Maclin Horton


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That teenager-ism was the first thing that popped into my head a little while ago when I caught the end of a CNN news clip on the radio as I pulled into the parking lot at work. The journalist was interviewing someone about the conclave. I missed the beginning of the segment where the interviewee was presumably identified, but judging by the tone and vocabulary I would guess her to be an academic, perhaps a theologian.

As I tuned in she was saying "The next pope will have to dialogue with modernity, rather than simply dismiss it." And she went on to say she was "not sure" that Cardinal Ratzinger is the man for the job. "Not sure" is, among intellectuals, a falsely humble way of saying "I don’t believe." "I’m not sure you’ve proved your case" means "I think you’re wrong."

I often find myself thinking that people don’t really believe what they say in polemics. The charge that John Paul II–and for that matter Cardinal Ratzinger in his role at the CDF–did not engage in dialogue with modernity is so preposterous that I can’t believe anyone could say it and really mean it. But if this woman really did mean it she really is not very bright at all.

There’s a third possibility: that she uses the word "dialogue" in other than its literal sense. I’m not sure that progressive theologians don’t intend it as a synonym for "surrender."

Maclin Horton

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