Saturday, May 07, 2005

From Grand Inquisitor To....Grand Inquisitor

inquisition4 And so it begins:
" An American Jesuit who is a frequent television commentator on Roman Catholic issues resigned yesterday under orders from the Vatican as editor of the Catholic magazine America because he had published articles critical of church positions, several Catholic officials in the United States said.
The order to dismiss the editor, the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, was issued by the Vatican's office of doctrinal enforcement - the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - in mid-March when that office was still headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter... "
But what the article then goes to say is that articles were published that gave both sides of a story, and that was hard for the Ratzingers of the church to take. This is a magazine the Chicago Tribune called one of the 50 best magazines, saying it "takes a hard-edged approach to such subjects as the just war theory, the New Age movement and talk of an American empire." A magazine of which the AP said "The venerable weekly has become required Roman Catholic reading under editor Thomas Reese." A magazine where debate was welcomed, in the Jesuit way, as a method of seeking truth and understanding. The Jesuits are the "intellectuals" of the church, and if any group could be said to have liberal leanings as a whole, it would be them, if only because of their scientific and scholarly methods.

You will note that the issuer of this fiat, now head statesman of the Church, Pope Benedict the Somethingorother, could have chosen to rescind this order in his new role,, but did not. So much for his much ballyhooed outreach since taking the office, when he said:

"My real program of governance is not to do my own will, not to pursue my own ideas, but to listen, together with the whole church, to the word and the will of the Lord, to be guided by Him so that He himself will lead the church at this hour of our history."
How many injustices have been praised as "God's will" when people in power found their own desires just "happened" to coincide with what God was "telling" them? He went on to say:

"Finally, like a wave gathering force, my thoughts go out to all men and women of today, to believers and non-believers alike."
He's thinking about them, all right. Thinking about how he can corral their sinful-ass recalcitrant souls and bend them to his--I mean, God's--will, and as with most of the church's missionary history, it has nothing at all to do with tolerance. To return to the NYTimes article:

"In recent years America has featured articles representing more than one side on sensitive issues like same-sex marriage, relations with Islam and whether Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should be given communion. Church officials said it was the publication of some of these articles that prompted Vatican scrutiny...
Catholic scholars and writers said in interviews yesterday that they feared that the dismissal of such a highly visible Catholic commentator was intended by the Vatican as a signal that debating church teaching is outside the bounds."
Without a doubt; and that is exactly the effect Ratzinger was intending, both then and now. Even my 86-year old mother-in-law, the most devout and decent Catholic I know, has dreaded his ascension to Pope. I don't see how this can't bode an eventual schism in the church in the next 50 years. Unless a New Inquisition silences dissent altogether:

"After the election of Pope Benedict XVI, America ran an editorial that said: "A church that cannot openly discuss issues is a church retreating into an intellectual ghetto."
"Intellectual" may be giving them too much credit.

No comments: