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New Pope Catholic, not 'Conservative'

By John Mallon
© 2005 By John Mallon
Catholic Online

Five years into the 21st century with 45 million dead by abortion, the problems of teen pregnancy, AIDS, divorce and so on, not to mention the murder of Terri Schiavo followed closely by the holy death of John Paul II in a Providential juxtaposition, there is very little you can say to someone who still confuses permissiveness with compassion.

Nevertheless, this has not stopped various media pundits from describing Pope Benedict XVI with labels intended perjoratively as "conservative" "hard-liner" "Panzer Kardinal" even "Nazi," and other offensive. descriptions that have been around for 20 years, but which now border on anti-Catholic slurs and bigotry.

Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI's views are not conservative, but Catholic--plainly and simply Catholic. In fact, the hot-button issues in question are not his views or John Paul II, views but Christ's views. Both men serve under Christ and do not make up the rules.

There are no ecclesiastical police raiding people's bedrooms and medicine cabinets for contraception, condoms and so forth. No one can stop anyone from using these things. But it is clear that the Church opposes them and they are objectively against the teaching of Christ as it comes to us in the Church's Magisterium, which enjoys infallibility, by the very words of Christ in the Gospel (see Matthew 16:16-20, Luke 10:16).

Science and demographics are now tragically vindicating Church teaching on contraception. It is both harmful to women's bodies and the health of marriages and harmful to the world's demographic balance which is in free-fall in the West.

Christianity, and Catholicism in particular, is a lifelong struggle to conform one's life to Christ. This is called life in Christ. All of us are at different stages of this journey, but if we persist in proscribed practices we should at least have the honesty to recognize it is we who stayed from Christ, not the Church which has abandoned us. Sin by it's very nature is alienating. It separates us from God, others and even ourselves.

Thus the modern experience of angst, loneliness and alienation. We have every right to ask the Church to forgive our sins as Christ gave her the power to do. But it is absurd to expect the Church to bless and approve the sinful behaviors that harm us so much.

The great sin of "modern" American Catholics--those who demand the Church "change"--is idolatry. They take their moral cues from sources other than Christ's Church.

They take their instruction from secularism, careerism, feminism, liberalism, hedonism, the Zeitgeist, "prevailing wisdom," and popular "climates of opinion;" all ideologies which amount to false gods. Serious Catholics know it is we who must convert to the true God, not the Church that must convert to us, blessing every passing impulse we think we have no right to refuse..

Take it or leave it, this is what it means to follow Christ as a Catholic.

When you hear someone say in a smug know-it-all tone of voice, "The Church has to get into the 21st century" meaning change her teaching to accommodate modern day sin ask them, "Who says so?"

(Actually, John Paul II left all those critics in the dust of the 1960s and brought the Church into the 21st century before anyone else got there.)

Who says the Church must change her teaching on contraception, ordaining priestesses, homosexuality and abortion? Don't we have enough promiscuity, sexual confusion, and death?

The authority of the Church to teach on these issues comes direct from Christ along with his promise to protect those teachings on faith and morals from all error. So who stands above Christ insisting these teachings "must change?"

I would really like to hear Catholic dissidents explain who (or what) that authority is.

Wouldn't you?


Mallon is contributing editor for Inside the Vatican magazine. He can be reached at


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Ratzinger, Benedict XVI, Dissent

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