A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Benedict XVI

We now have a new pope. Because of the enormous presence of John Paul II as an ambassador of peace and goodwill throughout the world since his elevation in 1978, the media scrutiny of the election of his successor has been excruciatingly complete. As well, the buzz over what it will mean for the one in six of us who are Catholic has been intense. As always, my devout Catholic fellow blogger The Anchoress, is a bellwether for the conservative opinion on Benedict and this rather overheated treatment on Daily Kos is the more intemperate form of the liberal opinion.

I frankly can't see what all the fuss is about. There is really no break in opinion or interpretation of Catholic doctrine between John Paul II and the pronouncements of the former Cardinal Ratzinger before his elevation. Presumably, the College Of Cardinals wanted to preserve that continuity as the best course for the Church in an ever more worldly world.

The only real question, as far as I can see, is whether Benedict XVI can sustain the global presence of the Papacy that 28 years of John Paul II built up. Since John Paul II was only 58, as opposed to Benedict's 78, I don't think that very likely. I rather think that the new pope will bear the same relation to his predecessor as Paul VI did to John XXIII, who was but a pale shadow to that very great Pope.

My only personal reservation comes from the report that, as Cardinal Ratzinger, he took a dim view of the willingness of bishops in Asia to regard the religions of their non-Christian neighbors as "a part of God's plan". Since I practice one of them, I would prefer a more open view of them than Benedict seems to have. But even this is not that important. We Buddhists, believing as we do in karma, cause, and effect, have plenty of room for patience and forbearance toward all but the most extreme attitudes toward us, and tolerance even for these.

But one thing we generally do agree on with the new Pope are the remarks below which he made a couple of years back as Cardinal Ratzinger:

There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a 'just war.'

If his elevation will propagate that message effectively among the one in six who are his flock, and thereby penetrate to the rest of the world, I, for one, will rest quite content in his Papacy.


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