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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

After less than two days of deliberation, the Roman College of Cardinals surprised no one by choosing Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a German, as the new Pontiff. Now he will be known as Pope Benedict XVI.

I think this tells us a great deal about the future direction and current leadership of the Roman Catholic church. If I'm not mistaken, a super-majority of 2/3 plus 1 was required. That a scholarly traditionalist, much like his predecessor, should be so quickly chosen might indicate how conservative the College of Cardinals really is.

Pope Benedict XVI just celebrated his birthday a few days ago. He is 78 which means the College chose a man who will not reign for nearly as long as John Paul II. For the past 20+ years, Ratzinger had been the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, an organization once known as the Inquisition. And he was definitely a hardliner in that role.

Obviously, my personal preference would have been for the College of Cardinals to elect a good solid Lutheran as their head (wink), but since that was never going to happen, Ratzinger is, in my evaluation, as good a man as any.

Sadly, under his watch, it will be very unlikely that any of the substantive differences between Rome and the Reformation will be resolved. But I am at least grateful that this new pope, like the one before him, will champion many critical principles of a historic Christian worldview against post-modern relativism. For instance, we can expect him to be an advocate and defender of the culture of life. In fact, I suspect very little will change under Benedict XVI.

Here is the text of the first public words spoken by Pope Benedict XVI.

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Neil E. Das said...

Hear, hear. I am glad, too, that it seems he will continue JPII's positions against relativism. I also am not a Catholic, but an interested brother-in-Christ/cobelligerent nonetheless.

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Take a gander at Ratzinger's homily that he gave before the conclave began. Again, with all the usual Lutheran caveats, Ratzinger nails a number of good points.

Funky Dung said...

"Sadly, under his watch, it will be very unlikely that any of the substantive differences between Rome and the Reformation will be resolved.

Actually, I've gotten quite the opposite impression. He seems to be very passionate about ecumenism. Also, being a German, I would suspect that Catholic-Lutheran relations would be of great interest to him.

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

You may be right, funk. He has said some favorable things about Martin Luther. I've read that he once even proposed declaring the Augsburg Confession a Catholic document. That would be a HUGE step. However, being such a traditionalist, I still can't see him withdrawing the anathemas of Trent against the Lutherans. I plan to get a couple of his books to read.

Christopher P. Stewart said...

Of course the Cardinal, now Pope refers to the RC as "The One True Faith"

That does't leave much room for interfaith understanding.

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Hi Christopher,
I don't blame a man for believing he is right, even if I think he's wrong. I'm curious to know if the reference you mention is him speaking of the RC church or Christianity.

Funky Dung said...

This Zenit article might interest you.

Lutheran Likes What He Sees in New Pontificate
Interview With Mark Hanson, Federation President

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Hi Funk,
I read the article. Thanks. But keep in mind that I'm a Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod guy. I'm sure Bishop Hanson means well. But this is the Mark Hanson who heads a denomination (The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) that pays for abortions for their church workers, that ordains women, that exercises nearly zero doctrinal discipline, and that is likely this summer to approve ordaining and marrying homosexuals. I think the chances that Benedict will want to get in bed with the Lutheran World Federation are pretty slim. But dialogue is always good.

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