Oh, it's over. They elected the former Hitler Youth as the new Pope. He's going to be known as Benedict XVI. Ironic they chose the name of a traitor.
I checked in with Michael in NYC, as he's my resident Catholicism expert. Here's what he just said by phone:
He sends shivers down the spines of liberal Catholics and Catholic thinkers. He's bee been the head of the inquisition in the church, literally. He's called dozens upon hundreds of theologians and priests to the carpet, put a chill through free speech and debate in the church. John Paul's legacy was of spreading democracy in eastern Europe but he quashed it inside the church. Ratzinger was the main instrument for killing free speech in the church. Ratzinger helped quash democracy inside the church, intellectual thought. He believes the church always knows what right, is never wrong.My personal take, speaking as John in DC, is I hope Ratzinger leads this church to a quick and painful loss of credibility in America and Europe. Let him be a conservative nutjob. This will only disaffect more Americans and more Europeans and cause even fewer young men in the West to enter the priesthood. And yeah, he'll inspire the conservatives in Africa and Asia, and in Latin America (though I hear they're more liberal with regards to poverty issues). And I hope he does. That will only sharpen the divide between the Western church and the developing country church, making the church get more conservative while Western culture gets more liberal, ultimately weakening the church leadership's influence in America, and therefore lessening it's horrendously bigoted and harmful influence in American politics.
He's UBER-conservative, he was a bit of a liberal, a moderate, as a young man. But the 1968 student uprisings turned him into an arch uber-conservative, he's like a convert, the worst kind of conservative.
It's as if Karl Rove became president.