A lot of people are expressing their grave disappointment in the elevation of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to the Papacy. Some of them are even nominally Catholic. But what gets me is that they sound so surprised.
Let’s review a few facts, shall we?
1) Ratzinger was, for about twenty years, the closest advisor, assistant, and confidante of Pope John Paul II, to the point of some calling him John Paul’s “alter ego.”
2) John Paul II had personally elevated to Cardinal nearly every single man who was voting for his successor.
3) Even before the Conclave, nearly every observer had him pegged as the likely winner, and I don’t recall any other Cardinal even being named as a possible rival.
Now that we’ve dismantled the “shock” of Ratzinger’s elevation to the papacy, let’s look at their “hopes” for a more “progressive” papacy, and just how realistic they are.
1) Ending of the priestly requirement of celibacy.
Not. Gonna. Happen.
The biggest cries for this “reform” are within the United States. Roughly 900 million of the world’s Catholics don’t live in the United States. Further, most of the people calling for this “reform” aren’t priests, or even Catholics. There is no real pressure from within for this change, so don’t bet on it happening any time soon.
2) Ordination of Women.
Not. Gonna. Happen. This is another case where the biggest push for this change is from outside the Church, but not quite as much as the first point. But nonetheless, the Church believes that this has actual Biblical foundation, and they are NOT gonna “change with the times” and suddenly admit women to the priesthood.
3) Acceptance of homosexuality/gay marriage.
Not. Gonna. Happen. The Church’s position on homosexuality is quite clearly rooted in the Bible. In fact, Leviticus 20:13 specifically calls for the death penalty for homosexual acts.
4) Acceptance of contraception.
Not. Gonna. Happen. But slightly more likely than the above three. The Church’s foundations for this policy are multiple, and the one most unspoken — Catholics having lots of babies means more Catholics in the future — tends to trump all others.
4a) Acceptance of condom usage in attempt to fight the spread of AIDS.
The sheer stupidity of this one really, really frosts me. People argue that it’s the Church’s prohibition of birth control that keeps people (especially in Africa) from using condoms and protecting them from contracting AIDS. The reality of it is that if people were so concerned about following Catholic doctrine, they’d be considerably safer from contracting AIDS. Forget the condom issue — if they simply followed the Church’s teachings forbidding non-marital sex, the AIDS rate would plummet. But it’s laughable to think that someone who’s already breaking a big Church rule and having sex outside of marriage thinks they’re going to lessen God’s wrath by not using a condom.
Now, if you happen to be discussing nations that ban the importation and sale of condoms based on Church teachings, that’s another issue. But you should take your fight to those individual governments, not the Church.
The gist of most people’s objections to Benedict XVI seems to be that he’s “too Catholic.” If ever there was a disqualifying condition to assuming the Throne of St. Peter and leading the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics, that’s GOT to be one.
Now, let me repeat, I’m not a Catholic. Which means that my opinions on the above reforms (which I happen to support) amount to a fart in a hurricane. I’m an outsider, and I have absolutely no standing to demand they make any changes to suit me. And if you’re not Catholic yourself, the same holds true for you, too.
If you still feel that strongly about it, might I recommend you convert to Catholicism and work from within to bring about those changes? Otherwise, butt out. It ain’t nobody’s business but theirs how they run their Church.