Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Feeling the Guillotine of an Election

Photo of Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI had the chance to speak to German Pilgrims yesterday and discussed his feelings about his election to be Pope:
"As the trend in the ballots slowly made me realize that — in a manner of speaking, the guillotine would fall on me — I started to feel quite dizzy," he said.
Some Guillotine! The blade falls and you become Pope! What a punishment.

It is ironic that Pope Benedict should be thinking about the guillotine. Especially after serving for 18 years on the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Catholic Committee the in its prior incarnation was known as the Office of the Inquisition. Heretics were not routinely beheaded during the Inquisition but suffered from the "Act of Faith":
The final scene of the Inquisitorial process was the Act of Faith (an auto-da-fé in Spain and 16th-century Italy, sermo generalis in the early days of the Papal Inquisition). Often, the accused did not hear their sentence until the day of the auto (those that were sentenced to death would be told the night before).

The Act of Faith was held in public, typically in a town square or (in Italy), inside a local church. They were often huge public spectacles. In 1660, an auto-da-fé held in Seville lasted for three days, and was attended by 100,000 people. On June 30, 1680, an auto-da-fé held in Madrid lasted for 14 hours, and had 50,000 spectators. The longest part of the auto-da-fé was the reading of sentences. With often hundreds of convicted heretics, the sentencing could take many hours.

Once the sentences had been read, those sentenced to death were led to the place of burning (quemadero in Spanish). Those that repented after being sentenced to death would be offered the courtesy of being garroted to death before being burned. Those that refused to recant (often Cathar perfecti, Lutherans and Calvinists in Italy and Spain, etc.) were burned alive

Ratzinger became known as the "Enforcer" and his record included:
Theologians disciplined, such as Fr. Charles Curran, an American moral theologian who advocates a right to public dissent from official church teaching; Fr. Matthew Fox, an American known for his work on creation spirituality; Sr. Ivone Gebara, a Brazilian whose thinking blends liberation theology with environmental concerns; and Fr. Tissa Balasuriya, a Sri Lankan interested in how Christianity can be expressed through Eastern concepts;

Movements blocked, such as liberation theology and, more recently, religious pluralism (the drive to affirm other religions on their own terms);

Progressive bishops hobbled, including Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle, reproached by Rome for his tolerance of ministry to homosexuals and his involvement in progressive political causes, and Bishop Dom Pedro Casaldáliga of Sao Félix, Brazil, criticized for his political engagement beyond the borders of his own diocese;

Episcopal conferences brought to heel on issues such as inclusive language and their own teaching authority;

The borders of infallibility expanded, to include such disparate points as the ban on women’s ordination and the invalidity of ordinations in the Anglican church.
But it was our own Senator John Kerry who felt the blade of the guillotine of Cardinal Ratzinger. As reported:
In a June 2004 letter to US bishops enunciating principles of worthiness for communion recipients, Ratzinger specified that strong and open supporters of abortion should be denied the Catholic sacrament, for being guilty of a "grave sin."

He specifically mentioned "the case of a Catholic politician consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws," a reference widely understood to mean Democratic candidate Kerry, a Catholic who has defended abortion rights.

The letter said a priest confronted with such a person seeking communion "must refuse to distribute it."

A footnote to the letter also condemned any Catholic who votes specifically for a candidate because the candidate holds a pro-abortion position. Such a voter "would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for holy communion," the letter read.

The letter, which was revealed in the Italian magazine L'Espresso last year, was reportedly only sent to US Catholic bishops, who discussed it in their convocation in Denver, Colorado, in mid-June.
And American Bishops toed the line.

It was reported just prior to the election how the Bishops were getting out the word on the required issues for the Catholic voter. It was related how Archbishop Chaput of Colorado lobbied for President Bush:
For Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, the highest-ranking Roman Catholic prelate in Colorado, there is only one way for a faithful Catholic to vote in this presidential election, for President Bush and against Senator John Kerry.

"The church says abortion is a foundational issue,'' the archbishop explained to a group of Catholic college students gathered in a sports bar here in this swing state on Friday night. He stopped short of telling them whom to vote for, but he reminded them of Mr. Kerry's support for abortion rights. And he pointed out the potential impact his re-election could have on Roe v. Wade.
So Thank You Pope Benedict XVI. You imagine the feel of the guillotine, and forget what your activity has done in America. You helped re-elect President Bush. A President who wages wars the Vatican doesn't approve of. Who was the leading capital punishment Governor in the United States while your Church opposed Capital Punishment. And who defiles the environment, failing to protect the trees, the water, and the air we breathe.

It was John Kerry who felt the blade of the guillotine while you just imagined it. His candidacy failed at the edges because he failed to capture the Catholic vote which should have been his.

Senator Kerry, keep on fighting for us. We have your back AND your neck!



Blogger Marie said...

He certainly wasn't on my list of potential popes. I knew a progressive would not be selected but had hoped for someone a little more dynamic and people oriented.


5:56 AM  

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