He began his papacy with a Latin Mass! I mean, come on, how hairbrained is that? I'm sure it turned on Mel Gibson and the ten or twelve people who share his views of religion. And all the Opus Dei crowd, the Neandertal Santa Mafia that is now the most influential group in the Catholic Church thanks to Ratzinger's ascension to the Holy See. I'm surprised they didn't broadcast The Passion of the Christ on a large screen in St. Peter's Square.
This article gives a glimpse of what we have now: A conservative pope bHope springs eternal in the human breast and all that. So some Catholics are putting on a brave face and hoping that his selection of Benedict as his papal title contains some sliver of hope. After all, Benedict XV is said to have tried to make peace in the First World War. And tried to reach out to other faiths. Richard McBrien wrote of his papacy (1914-1922) in Lives of the Popes (1997):
He sought in various ways to alleviate the sufferings caused by war, for example, by attempting to reunite prisoners of war with their families and by persuading Switzerland to accept soldiers of all nations afflicted with tuberculosis. But when on August 1, 1917, he proposed a seven-point peace plan, including the renunciation of war indemnities and the return of all occupied territories, both the Allies and the Central Powers ignored it. The Allies, in fact, suspected the pope of tilting toward Germany because of Germany's promise to return Rome to the Holy See after defeating Italy. Benedict XV also dreaded the expansion of Russian Orthodoxy if Russia and the Allies triumphed. The Allies referred to him contemptuously as "le pape boche" or "the Kraut pope," while the Germans, in their turn, dismissed him as "der franzosische Papst" or "the French pope." When the armistice was actually reached in 1919, the pope was deliberately excluded from the negotiations in accordance with an agreement reached between the Allies and Italy. (my emphasis)
Just what we need. A Pope who makes vague and ineffective gestures toward peace while warring nations carry on like a bunch of bandits. And all the time he can wage unrelenting propaganda to convince Africans to deal with their stunning AIDS epidemic by practicing abstinence and by staying away from condoms, for Opus Dei's sake!
But Benedict XV did have some other political ideas, as well:
He also authorized a secret meeting between the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and Cardinal Gasparri in the nome of Count Carlo Santucci, an old friend of the pope, in order to begin the process of regularizing the place of the Holy See in Italy (the result would be the Lateran Treaty of 1929).
I'm sure Ratzinger was inspired by that part of Benedict XV's career.
This also makes it sound like Benedict XV was open to Christian-Muslim dialogue:
The Turks erected a statue of Benedict XV in Istanbul (formerly Constantinople) that hailed him as "the great pope of the world tragedy [presumably the Great War] .. the benefactor of all people, irrespective of nationality or religion."
Ratzinger I also has ideas about interreligious dialogue. As Ford and Arie report:
His combative side came out in 2000 in a dispute over a CDF [Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which he headed]document entitled Dominus Iesus. Aimed at restating the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church against the more inclusive views in Asia, it branded other Christian denominations as deficient or not quite real churches.
Anglican, Lutheran, and other Protestant churches which had been in ecumenical dialogue with Rome for years were shocked. They were further upset when Ratzinger dismissed protests from Lutherans as "absurd."
Ratzinger has also expressed opposition to Turkey entering the European Union because Turkey is a Muslim country. Europe's Christian heritage is too important, you see, for them to be associating themselves so closely with a country shaped by one of those pagan religions.
I'm sure we'll see ecumenical action under Pope Ratzinger I. I'm very sure he will continue the ecumenical policies pursued by John Paul II as the Vatican joined with the Christian Right Bush administration and the conservative Muslim regimes to oppose international efforts to promote birth control, AIDS education and treatment, and rights for women and gays. An ecumenical Reactionary International, determined to stamp out "modernist" ideas like rights for women, sexual hygiene, and "reality-based" understandings of human psychology. We've got to rein in all this relativism, radical individualism and vague religious mysticism that leads people to think that adults ought to be able to make their own decisions about their own bodies or choose their own consensual sex partners based on their own feelings, and supplied with current medical and scientific knowledge.
No, the holy minds of Opus Dei know that we have to concentrate on important things, like the "re-Christianization of Europe." ("Your mission, Mr. Phelps, if you choose to accept it...")
What's next, a World Ecumenical Council featuring Ratzinger I, James Dodson, Muqtada al-Sadr and Randall Terry?