Tuesday, April 8, 2008

More Benedict

Thanks to Amy Welborn, she links an intriguing dialog between John Allen [of the National Catholic Reporter] and George Weigel regarding Pope Benedict. Here are a couple of nuggets:

Allen on the Pope and the U.N.:
I think the heart of his pitch before the U.N. probably will cut a little bit deeper. It will be Benedict’s argument that what the world desperately needs today is a global moral consensus – that is, a consensus on fundamental moral truths that are universal and unchanging that can serve as a basis for things like protection of human rights and human dignity. I think his analysis is that in an era in which you have several important players on the world stage – China and Iran come to mind – arguing that the whole concept of human rights is a sort of Western cultural artifact, I think the pope believes that the construction of a kind of moral consensus that we can all agree upon based on truths about human nature and open to the wisdom of spiritual traditions and religious traditions is a critical priority.

Allen on the Pope and U.S. Catholics:
I think the dominant note of the pope’s message will be various versions of what I have come to see as the interpretive key to his papacy, which is what I call affirmative orthodoxy. And what I mean by that is a strong defense of traditional Catholic faith and practice – that is, a kind of recalling people to those traditional markers of Catholic thought, speech, practice, but phrasing all that in the most relentlessly positive fashion possible. People know far more about what the Catholic Church says no to rather than what it says yes to, and so I think his effort is to try to present a positive vision of what the Catholic Church represents.

Weigel reminds on what changes in Papacy means:
changes of popes are not to be understood in any sense by analogy to changes of presidential administrations or changes of governments in parliamentary systems. Popes are the servants and custodians of what they understand to be an authoritative tradition, all of which is to say that they don’t make it up on their own. And in that sense, policy means something different in this context than it would in the political context with which we’re all familiar in our various countries.

Weigel on Benedict's inter religious accomplishments:
It has shifted the course of the dialogue by setting in motion a process that has now led to the formation of a Catholic-Muslim forum that will meet twice a year, once in Amman, Jordan, once in Rome, and that will focus its attention on the issues that Benedict XVI has put on the agenda – namely, religious freedom as the first of human rights and a right that can be known by reason, and secondly, the imperative of separating spiritual and political authority in a justly governed state...I would also point to the recent initiative by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who proposes to gather in his country a new forum of dialogue among the monotheistic religions, and the Vatican’s reported negotiations, about which John might have some more to say later, with the Saudi government over the unthinkable, or the hitherto unthinkable, namely the building of a Catholic church in Saudi Arabia.

Read it all [quite long]

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