Wednesday, April 06, 2005


With the Pope's passing, I am doing a lot more church-y writing and church-y linking. Probably more than I intended when I created NWW last August. The Terri Schaivo story was another that pulled me in that direction. In any case, the Papal remembrance and the upcoming Conclave are stories that I can't, as a new Catholic to be, overlook. What's more, I find them fascinating. It's a story that has literally grabbed me. Yesterday, while I was at work, I met a woman who told me she had seen her daughter on the television, waiting to see John Paul's body. She was a little overwhelmed. Stalwart wit that I am, I think I said "wow, that's neat." She repeated to me what she had seen and then gave me a warm, emotional hug. When she let me go, her eyes were pink and puffy, holding back tears. I got minorly verklempt myself. I think she was Polish, and she had no way of knowing that I am in the home stretch of joining her church. I have begun to open myself to the fact that life is stranger than we ever imagine. Here are a few more angles on this story- The New Republic offers a revealing look at the political issues behind the upcoming Conclave, which I heard is to start on April the 18th:
both the left and right perspectives have a major flaw: namely, an America-centric myopia. Neither side sees that the next Pope is unlikely to be chosen along the conventional left-right continuums on economic and social issues. In fact, there is every reason to believe that the criteria for choosing John Paul's successor will be less ideological--and more mundane--than pundits would have you believe. ... Those who hope for a liberal Pope misunderstand both liberalism and Catholicism. Precisely speaking, there is no such thing as a "liberal" candidate, if by liberal you mean Lockean, or liberal as in voting with Nancy Pelosi. The cardinals have different points of reference. To them, Enlightenment philosophy is alluring but ultimately unsatisfying, and being in favor of legal abortion is not liberal, it is inhumane. The key divide is between those who favor centralization and those who favor permitting regional differences in theology and liturgy and some experimentation within Catholicism. But some cardinals may be sticklers on liturgy and very forward-thinking about social justice. Standard political categories do not apply. In short, the concerns of the electors differ sharply from many of the issues and ideologies being thrown about in the press. Besides, traditionally, after a long pontificate, the cardinals select an older man as a transitional figure--one who is unlikely to be as influential as his predecessor. Far from a showdown between liberal and conservative conceptions of Catholicism, everything about the upcoming Conclave suggests moderation: ma non troppo.
The passing of the Pope has brought one of my favourite Catholic bloggers back to his bloggers keyboard. Mark Shea shares a few thoughts on the man and one those who had difficulty accepting him. He makes the excellent point that many of the Pope's enemies were and are ideological extremists, whereas the Pope was rightly not concerned about fitting into those molds. His tune was always one of Orthodoxy and the embrace of the flesh and blood people before him. JPII was not only a man who faced down Communist Poland. He was also a man who forgave his would be assassin. Remember some of the oddities surrounding JPII's death that I pointed out in my last Links! post? It turns out there's a few more, this time concerned with the funeral this Friday. Like I said, life is really weird. The American Spectator chimes in with praise for JPII for not following the times, as does The Detroit News.

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