And so the Catholic church accelerates its turn toward authoritarianism, hostility to modernity, assertion of papal supremacy and quashing of internal debate and dissent. We are back to the nineteenth century. Maybe this is a necessary moment. Maybe pressing this movement to its logical conclusion will clarify things. But those of us who are struggling against what our Church is becoming, and the repressive priorities it is embracing, can only contemplate a form of despair. The Grand Inquisitor, who has essentially run the Church for the last few years, is now the public face. John Paul II will soon be seen as a liberal. The hard right has now cemented its complete control of the Catholic church. And so ... to prayer. What else do we now have? [Well, Andrew, there is a little thing called repentance and turning away from sin. Maybe give that a try.]
It would be hard to over-state the radicalism of this decision. It's not simply a continuation of John Paul II. It's a full-scale attack on the reformist wing of the church. The swiftness of the decision and the polarizing nature of this selection foretell a coming civil war within Catholicism. The space for dissidence, previously tiny, is now extinct. And the attack on individual political freedom is just beginning. [*sniff* IT'S NOT FAIR!!!]
Update: A reader has e-mailed to The Corner: "Frankly, Ms. Lopez, the shrieking rant from the increasingly unhinged Andrew Sullivan you highlighted has got to rank as the most ringing endorsement of Pope Benedict XVI that I have yet seen."
Update: Andrew, you're such a drama queen! Suck it up, son!
You know I wish in many ways I could simply leave this church, and say to hell with it. But I cannot. For one, I keep believing. This is not experienced as a choice. It is just my reality. When I read the Gospels, they speak the truth to me. When in the past, I have been at Mass, I have felt as a reality the presence of God. As I sometimes tell people, I can say the creed at mass with very few reservations. But believing in the basic creed is not enough any more. We are required to assent in every way to every papal pronouncement, even if it belies what one can see with one's own eyes and see in one's own experience. Ratzinger's elevation means that will be even more stringently enforced. Even then, according to the new Pope, my conscience is not valid. To ratchet the rack still further, we are forbidden from even discussing changes that we sincerely believe may be essential for keeping the Church alive. This is my family. I can no more divorce myself from it than I can my biological mother. And today, many parts of that family are reeling with grief and anger and despair. If the insular cardinals believe that they have helped save the faith in the West, I fear they are mistaken. They may have ensured its final death rattle.