Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger Elected New Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church

This afternoon in Vatican City, the administrative heart of Roman Catholicism, the College of Cardinals elected Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (right) of Germany as the 265th pope. Adopting the name Benedict XVI, Ratzinger is the first German to be elected chief prelate of the world's largest single religious sect, which claims over a billion members, in almost 1,000 years.

A staunch conservative on social, moral, and doctrinal matters, Ratzinger has his detractors. However, for the conservatives within the Church, his election is a victory for traditionalism over the creeping forces of liberalism that are being pushed forward by so-called "progressives." It would seem that under the new pope, "progressive" issues such as homosexual marriage, the ordination of female priests, and abortion will still not be allowed by the Church. Roman Catholicism and other world religions are beginning to take a stand against the so-called "progressive" agendas that liberal groups are attempting to push through. Traditionalists have had enough and the great debate between them and "progressives" is already underway. The question is, how much will traditional religion change in order to try and accomodate an increasingly demanding liberal-left?

Some media organizations and the Israeli government (through Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, have noted that Ratzinger was briefly a member of the Hitler Youth and the German military during the Second World War. However, what they often do not mention is the fact that membership in the Hitler Youth was mandatory and that he was drafted into the Wermacht. There is an important difference between joining an organization of one's own volition and being required by law to participate. Rabbi Israel Singer, chairman of the World Jewish Congress, said, ""We worked closely with Cardinal Ratzinger on many issues, including the Holy See's relationship with Israel and the church's condemnation of anti-Semitism. Cardinal Ratzinger provided the theological underpinning for many of the major advances in Jewish-Catholic relations in the past quarter century."

For more on Shalom's comments, see:

My hopes are that Pope Benedict XVI will continue to engage the Church with other world religions, including Judaism and Islam. It is with Islam that Roman Catholicism has historically been in competition. This state of rivalry remains in place to this day, as both Roman Catholicism and Islam are spreading rapidly throughout Africa.

Ratzinger speaks multiple languages, is said to be a brilliant theologian, and is a staunch supporter of religious traditionalism. As long as he continues the Church's outreach to other religions and if he works at becoming the great communicator that his predecessor was, Ratzinger should have a relatively smooth run as pontiff.

For more information on the election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, see: http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/04/19/pope.tuesday/index.html