Pope shows more signs of swinging to the right in public

International Herald Tribune | Ian Fisher and Larry Rohter | May 14, 2007

APARECIDA, Brazil: Pope Benedict XVI’s first trip to Latin America has added to a sense, expressed recently by supporters and critics alike, that his papacy seemed to be moving closer to the mold that he embodied as Joseph Ratzinger, a conservative and contentious cardinal.

In a major speech Sunday, the pope condemned capitalism and Marxism as “systems that marginalize God” and urged the Latin American clergy to feed people’s spiritual hunger as the way to ease poverty and halt the Roman Catholic Church’s steady decline in the region.

Speaking to Latin American bishops here for a conference on the church’s direction for the next decade, the pope also condemned abortion and contraception and laws that permit them. Such laws, he said, are “threatening the future of peoples.”

The speech was widely anticipated for how Benedict – on his first visit to the Western Hemisphere as pope – would tackle issues from poverty and social injustice to the evangelical groups eroding Roman Catholicism in some Latin American countries at the rate of 1 percent a year.

Just as he, as a cardinal in the 1980s, cracked down on liberation theology, which he viewed as incorrectly emphasizing Christ as social redeemer, Benedict stressed first proclaiming Christ as the son of God – even if many of the poor here might like to hear more about social justice.

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11 thoughts on “Pope shows more signs of swinging to the right in public

  1. Maybe I’m just missing the boat–but why do journalists and secularists always criticize the Pope for being, well, too Catholic?? Why do they think B16 wouldn’t be anti-abortion, anti-contraception? It would also help if journalists actually tried to understand the nuances of Catholicism–like the Pope noting that pro-abortion politicians are not excommunicated, but by their sinful actions have excluded themselves from communion, and that the beef with liberation theologies is not the focus on helping the poor, but rather the reinterpretion of the Gospel through a wholly secular Marxist dialectic that casts Jesus into a kind of social activist who will found a proletariat utopia on earth.

    I envy the Orthodox, who don’t have nearly the problems with heterodoxy that the Roman Catholics do. Sure, you have the Old Calendarists to our RadTrads and the Mt. Athos monks to our Traditionalists, but I don’t see your bishops tolerating the kind of heterodoxy our bishops do in the Americas and Europe.

  2. Brian,

    I will do nothing to defend modern journalists as I find their behavior mostly ironic and hypocritical. Still, I have to ask – Why should you expect them to understand the ‘nuances’ of Roman Catholicism? There is a single person who speaks for the entire Roman Church and you are suprised when his words make him a target of criticism?

    Orthodoxy doesn’t have the problem for two main reasons: 1) We keep the complete truth, as it always has been. The Church is designed to be run by a council of Bishops, equal amongst their peers. Together, they decide church policy and are hard pressed to change doctrine just to satisfy man’s immediate wishes. 2) We don’t mix faith with politics. Orthodoxy has no toleration for heterdoxy in it’s churches because it doesn’t have to do so. The church is what it is, take it or leave it. I am very happy that it remains that way too.

    My parents were Episcopalian and now consider themselves Anglican. I marvel at why they are shocked by ongoing controversy in their previous faith. The reason is the very way the split first occured – A king wanted something the Roman Pope did not give him. That precidence will always be the catalyst for branching and pruning of that faith.

    I stand shoulder to shoulder with my fellow christians and ask why the same journalists have no criticism for Islam. Of course, I know the answer to that.

  3. I’m waiting to see if Giuliani wuill be denied communion, since his views on abortion are exactly the same as those of John Kerry.

    BTW, if this thrice-married man, whose family life such is a disaster his own children will barely even speak to him, is embraced by the Republican party then I expect an apology to still-married-to-his-first-wife Bill Clinton for all the unbelievable abuse that was directed at him for eight long years.

  4. Dean, I agree with you, if the only “leader” the Republican Party can come up with is Rudy, it does not deserve to win anything. However, do you really think his candidacy would have any chance were it not for the triumph of amoral pragmatism that carried your man to the White House twice?

    Furthermore, maybe, Rudy actually married women who were not quite as infatuated with power as is Hillary.

    In any case we get leaders who reflect the moral and philosophical beliefs and desires of the people. So, if we want to change things, we have to change ourselves first.

  5. Putting Guliani aside for the moment but taking more of a look at the emerging theme of reducing the incidence of abortion…

    You hear this more on the right, but only because (I think) you are hearing on more on the left. Even NOW is parroting the theme, a notable development given they are enthralled with abortion. Planned Parenthood may even follow (reluctantly to be sure given that abortion is their cash cow).

    Nevertheless, the position contains the implicit affirmation that the unborn child is a human being. I don’t think there has been any conversion to the inherent right of all children to life on the part of NOW. It may be a cynical ploy, or perhaps resignation that their anti-life message just isn’t carrying the day. In either case, motives don’t matter as much as the conceptual shift in the message.

    I’ve been arguing for several years that a cultural shift towards the sanctity of life is occuring. This may be more evidence that it is.

    Politcally of course (by politically I also include the larger cultural debates), it’s messier. Pro-abortion Democrats will try to steal the issue as their own (cynical manipulation) while pro-life Democrats may get the hearing they have been denied by the leftist core of their party, while pro-abortion Republicans with good credentials in other areas (Gulianni for example) will gain more traction than they otherwise might have. Of course, with Guliani, his record as mayor and his clear-headedness about the radical Muslim threat helps him a great deal.

    But again, these are politcal considerations affected by the conceptual shift. It looks like the pro-life message is getting through; incremental but important gains have been made.

  6. So the US Orthodox bishops will be taking away those awards to the Orthodox US Senators that are pro abortion? Or is honoring pro-aborts not heterdox???
    Holding the truth and abiding by it are two different things.
    All churches mix faith and politics, in fact well into the 20th century Greek clergymen held elective positions, one being the president of cyprus.
    The Orthodox hold the complete truth but lets not sugar coat the problems for any church

  7. Guest, although it has been awhile, Sens Sarbanne and Snow have been directly and forcefully criticized here as well as the bishops who honor them.

    We Orthodox have a particularly mixed history when it comes to our relationship to the state and we are still learning what is appropriate in a pluralistic oligarchy like the United States. The temptation to power and recognition is easy to fall into. We owe it to our fellows, our bishops and ourselves to point out when the line has been crossed. Unquestionably, the line has been crossed with Sarbannes and Snow, and in the past with Dukakis and Stephanopolus (sp). I don’t know what the reaction of the hierachy has been to the Greek man who ran for govenor of California as a pro-abortion guy. Our friend Dean S certainly made a lot of excuses for him when he was running. The only non-Greek, non-Democrat nationally prominent Orthodox political figure of whom I am aware is Spencer Abraham. I really don’t know what his record on the subject is.

    But clearly, we have a lot of work to do. The genuine Orthodox approach to political questions will never be monolithic nor should it be. However, some issues should be clear and abortion is one of them.

  8. The only non-Greek, non-Democrat nationally prominent Orthodox political figure of whom I am aware is Spencer Abraham

    Snowe is a Republican.

  9. Michael B – I agreed with you that a pro-choice position on abortion cannot be reconciled with the teachings of our church. You also raise a good point of whether or not the Church has an obligation to publically rebuke, or even privately correct, it’s members in politics who advance morally questionable views.

    In the specific case of Phil Angelides who ran for Governor of California last year, I did not want to join you in trashing the man because I knew that his regretable position on abortion was offset by some good work he had done in other areas.

    As director of CalPERS,the nation’s largest pension fund, he had worked to promote more socially responsible investing, and as a private real estate developer before that he and his partners had donated the land my own Church sits on. Even my own Priest, who is pretty conservative in his political views, thought Phil Angelides was a good man personally.

    In the end, the Orthodox Church has a duty to make it’s moral principles and guidelines known to its members. If an Orthodox politician decides to stray from those guildelines then the rest of us are free to take that into account in the voting booth.

  10. What I and many others find objectionable (in addition to the stance) is the hierarchy honoring such politicians who publicly flaunt fundamental teaching of the Church. Equally objectionable is when these same politicians hold themselves out to be Orthodox or Catholic at the same time. My priest has stated unequivocably that anyone who supports “a woman’s right to choose” cannot approach the cup even if that support is only held within their own heart and mind.

    This is not, within the Church, a political issue so one cannot be either “conservative” or “liberal”. One either abides by the Church’s teaching or one does not. Whatever the character of Mr. Angelides is, I don’t know, but I think it is revealing of character that he chooses the platform of a political party over the teachings of the Church and does so in a manner that, as I recall, went far beyond the “I’m personally opposed to it, but its the law” IMO, the hierarchs should speak out publically on such people if they are using their Orthodox heritage as part of their campaign and should never give them any public recognition or honors. Otherwise, I agree with you.

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