Sunday, April 24

The Bulldog Pope

"It logically follows from the consequences of a sexuality which is no longer linked to motherhood and to procreation," he said, "that every form of sexuality is equivalent and therefore of equal worth." It is only logical, then, that self-gratification becomes the point of sex. And it follows that all forms of sex - including homosexual - become equal and considered "rights."

Sounds pretty good for our new Pope...

He meant it as a criticism.

In a book-length interview published in 1985 titled "The Ratzinger Report," he used a rigorously argued line of reasoning to support a doctrinal position that reverberates outside the church. He condemned abortion, contraception, homosexual relations, sex without marriage, "radical feminism" and transsexuality. The wrongness of those ideas all arise from the separation of sexuality from motherhood and marriage, he said.

Liberation theology of the 1980's, in which leftist clerics in Latin America argued for radical change in society to help the poor, was quashed. Bishops were chastised for straying, like Archbishop Raymond G. Hunthausen of Seattle over his tolerant views on homosexuals. More than a dozen theologians, priests and bishops were punished for doctrinal error, and presumably, many other cases have not come to light. In 2000, he published a condemnation of the concept that other religions might be as valid as Catholicism.

Cardinal Ratzinger never displayed the same degree of interest in reconciling East and West in what John Paul II loved to describe as the "two lungs of Christianity." Mostly he was busy stamping out wisps of religious pluralism, most famously in 2000, when he published "Dominus Iesus" ("The Lord Jesus") , which condemned "relativistic theories" of religious pluralism and described other faiths as "gravely deficient."

The document was mostly aimed at reining in straying Catholic theologians like the Rev. Jacques Dupuis, a Belgian theologian who after teaching in India argued that other religions could also lead to salvation, but it offended religious leaders of almost every stripe. Jewish religious leaders in Rome boycotted several interfaith meetings in protest. Even some cardinals publicly questioned its tone and timing.