USA Today’s piece on what Americans can expect from the papal visit is awful.
During the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65, this German-born theologian was something of a wunderkind and very much on the side of the liberalizers of his church. The events of the late 1960s unsettled him, however, and his thought gradually turned against what he now denounces as the “relativism” of the modern age. After John Paul II tapped him to lead the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he quickly earned a reputation as “God’s Rottweiler“: a hard-liner who would take a bite out of a liberation theologian in the morning and muzzle a feminist in the afternoon.
Where to begin? Benedict was a wunkerkind (ooh German!) when he was on the side liberalizers. Who were these people and what were they liberalizing? Relativism gets scare quotes – why? How did Ratzinger “earn” his latter reputation? It seems more like the media gave it to him. Muzzling a feminist in the afternoon? Sounds like a fetish – not a description of Ratzinger’s time heading the Holy Office.
Slate makes the point that Benedict isn’t a neo-conservative. That’s fine as it goes. He was against the War in Iraq, whereas American Catholic neo-cons were for it. But what else? I can’t find a neo-con who believes capitalism should degrade man to the level of merchandise. Were any neo-cons hoping that Benedict would not re-word the Good Friday prayer for Jews in the Church’s traditional liturgy? No. This is evidence of what?
Something tells me the bad coverage is just beginning.