Thursday, August 06, 2015

Pope Benedict XVI, The View From Japan

Benedict XVI As No One Has Seen Him Before. From Japan
Although Benedict XVI did not expressly intend to do so, in fact he brought the dominion of modern values into question. In the context of his criticism of Marxism he supported Western parliamentary democracy, but his siding in favor of democracy was by no means unconditional. He decisively refused to introduce it into the Church, which is ordered in a hierarchical way. He also looked with skepticism at public opinion polling. His distance from the popular will is not explained only by his experience with the student movement in the 1960’s, but was already rooted in his distancing himself from National Socialism, which in its time was accompanied by thunderous applause from the majority of the population. He also did not share the optimistic evaluation of modern-day man and the progress of society.

His attitude followed in the footsteps of Christian social conservatism. The appreciation of the family and of heterosexual marriage was in contradiction with the present-day multiplication of family models. The emphasis placed on the role of Christianity as the pre-political basis of liberal democracy was aimed against secularism. Benedict XVI disapproved of the criticism of Eurocentrism and reiterated the Christian character of Europe. Not only in political questions, but also and above all in cultural ones he took positions and acted as an active champion of old European culture against the tides of globalization.

Pope Benedict XVI was a nonconformist on the throne of Peter. When from the seat of gold he imparted the blessing in Latin, excommunicated dissidents, held the universal Church together and affirmed the unicity of the Catholic faith, he was in fact showing his authoritarian side. It comes as no surprise that his detractors, like Leonardo Boff or Johann Baptist Metz, should have criticized him. Nonetheless, the question can also be seen in a different way if it is placed within the situation in which the Church finds itself. If one looks at the dominant position of modern values, the Catholic Church is an oppressed minority while its critics belong to the majority. Thus Ratzinger’s authoritarian attitude was a reaction to the prevailing situation.

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