This is why there is so much cynicism about the Roman Catholic Church, frankly. There is a bit of politicking that goes on within it, isn't there, and in its policies?
Nor is this limited to the Church itself. Hardly.
I mean, let's look at it dispassionately.
People of ecumenical (inclusive) inclinations love to cite John Paul II
's and Vatican II's statements that, in effect, relegate Catholicism to simply one of many faiths that are "equally valid". And -- think about it -- John Paul II
was the first Pope ever to set foot in a mosque, let alone kiss the Koran.
Now, much the world seems to love John Paul II
's memory in that respect; it also loved him while he was alive, although this unusual ardor tended to attenuate the farther the conversation veered from how much all religions are the same.
In other words, the more that the "progressive" view of religion (such as it was), that all paths to God were equal, was promoted, the more love was shown by people of all faiths toward... the self-claimed vicar, in the realm temporal, of Christ. The self-claimed infallible vicar of the living Christ
, on Earth.
Much wiser men than I have claimed that the more inclusive the Roman Catholic Church was, the more it was like Christ Himself.
But is that claim actually true?
It's quite ironic to me that progressives seem to ignore the truth about Christianity in one respect (i.e., that it can be rather exclusive, rather than inclusive), and yet attack it on the basis of that truth in another (ibid.
). That is, progressives think that the Church (under John Paul II
) was properly inclusive, yet progressives also think that the Church (in general) is exclusive and anti-[insert cause here].
It seems that the less Roman Catholic was the Pope, the more he was loved. Perhaps the late Pope's truer calling was to be the universal Pope, although this was not his title.
The theology of this is quite beyond me. But it does seem that the rationalizations in support of, or attacks against, the Roman Catholic Church, are evidently chaotic by nature. There is little rhyme or reason as to why the Church should happen to be an epitome of progress, in one respect, and yet, Sinead O'Connor-like, also be deemed the mother of all conservatism, in another -- depending, seemingly, on the day of the week.
If what his detractors, such as Madeleine Bunting, the author of the cited Guardian
article, says is reasonable, then what Benedict XVI has done, it would seem, is to make the Roman Catholic Church a church in which Roman Catholicism actually rules. Very little, really, should we be surprised, since, while this may not be ecumenical, at least it has the virtue of being Roman Catholic.
As for whether this serves the interests of apologia, I leave that up to the reader.
[Edited 2006-09-19 14:01:37]
What's fair is fair.