Sunday, January 22, 2006

Paul Elie & Pope Benedict XVI

I read Paul Elie's article on the election and prospective tenure of Pope Benedict over the weekend. While interesting in places, I thought some of the analysis of the run-up to the conclave ill-founded. Unfortunately, where it really falls to pieces is in his conclusions about the role of the papacy. He predicts an "essentially negative papacy" (though not meaning bad, but rather restrictive; a papacy of the removal of burdens on the church), which seems to me a not outrageous view, though it would seem to me that if Benedict is more focused on the Church ad intra than John Paul this does not correspond to a restictive papacy. Indeed, in his meeting with Bishop Fellay, and the restart of ecumenical discussions with the Orthodox would seem to indicate a possibly activist papacy on the subject of ecumenism. More egregiously, he buys into the thoroughly and utterly debunked notion that Pius XII was cavalier about the fate of Jews during the Second World War. But then Elie bizarrely attributes the flowering of American Catholic culture to Pius XII's "relative indifference to American society." I fail to see any plausible connexion between the successes of Flannery O'Connor and Dorothy Day and the interest or lack thereof taken by the Pope in America. For a far better understanding of Pope Benedict and the doings of the Vatican, read John Allen and Sandro Magister, two brilliant and fair-minded vaticanisti. For books, I understand (though have not read) that John Allen's and George Weigel's are the best works out there to give an understanding of Pope Benedict and what we may expect from his papacy.


Blogger Harrison said...

God's Choice by George Weigel is very good. He does push his own position of course on the war in Irag, but other then that I found it to be well balanced and gave great insight to the inner workings of the Vatican.


January 22, 2006 5:54 PM  
Blogger The Pleasant Peasant said...

intellectual schoolyard arguments:
"my dad's library is bigger than your dad's library".

January 22, 2006 6:54 PM  
Blogger gabriel said...

Okay, I'll admit my father isn't the perfect bibliophile (that'd be me)- he used to throw out dustjackets after he read the books, and he really doesn't seek after classics and beautiful copies. Very utilitarian.

I love them for the tactility, the beauty and the content.

January 23, 2006 1:42 AM  

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