Media are clueless about the pope
Editor -- Media oblivion to views they don't understand is rarely better expressed than in the April 20 Chronicle report on the election of the new pope, ("New pope calls himself 'a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord' ").
Election of 78-year-old Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, says the article, reflects the cardinals' wish to "continue the strict conservative policies of John Paul II" and so provide a "transitional reign before taking on the daunting issues of the 21st century."
It doesn't occur to the writer that the cardinals, being religious Catholics, actually consider traditional Catholicism a basis for "taking on the daunting issues" of this or any other century. Rather, they must be simply naming this old guy who presumably won't last long, in order to take a breather before deciding to come to their senses and make the church a realistic institution that better follows the market and the opinion polls.
Like Pravda in the old Soviet Union, U.S. mass media see everything through one prism -- corporate and materialistic -- that denies the views of others without understanding them. In so doing, it radically distorts our view of the world and reactions to it.
Editor -- Cardinal Ratzinger is an obdurate stone in the Catholic hierarchy, a man so mired in the rigid inequities of the church with a view of God's world impervious to change, even when that change brings light and hope to millions of believers. I am convinced that the Catholic Church has drafted its own epitaph by choosing this uncompromising man, and whether it survives the next 50 years in its present form is open to serious debate.
The world is not made of stone but of the flesh and blood of people who love, regardless of the narrowly proscribed dictates of the church.
Jesus promised that each man or woman is equal in God's eyes, but the Catholic Church has, through its lust for power and dominion over the faithful, chosen for hundreds of years to ignore that simple and eloquent message.
It is time to rock the foundation, and Pope Benedict XVI is hardly the man with the tools for the job.
Editor -- The Chronicle's front-page article on the election of Pope Benedict XVI declares, "the nation's 65 million Catholics are divided over such issues as abortion, birth control, stem-cell research, priestly celibacy and the ordination of women". Every news article and every TV broadcast has echoed a similar comment.
However, I am one Catholic who recognizes that it is for every Catholic to order his or her thinking and lives to conformity to our faith as defined by the authority in the papacy and not the other way around. Religious principles are not about being popular or easy but about what the leaders of the faith determine are the right and just paths. For those who dissent, let them search for the strength to align themselves with the teachings of the church. If they cannot, there are plenty of churches around who like to teach what the people want to hear.
GERALD E. KOSEL
Saturday, April 23, 2005
From today's letters to the SF Chronicle: