The Economist: A sense of disarray in the Holy See

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To understand the personal baggage that Pope Benedict XVI brought to the Holy Land this week, it is worth looking at his most accessible book, "Jesus of Nazareth", published two years ago. With a mixture of intense piety and arcane scholarship, he reflects on the Jewish origins of Christianity's dogmas and rites in a way that shows deep interest in the religion of ancient Israel--yet total conviction that the older faith's true meaning is to be found only in Christ. Both in its rigour and in its devotion, the pope's writing reflects the enclosed places in which he has spent most of his 82 years. First, the formal atmosphere of German academia, where charisma is a dirty word; and then the upper echelons of the Vatican, a world whose ethos, reasoning and vocabulary are utterly remote from the lives of most lay Catholics, let alone everyone else.

No surprise, then, that he lacked the street sense to send the right signals on a trip to the front line: the Middle Eastern confrontation zone of the three monotheistic faiths, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, a region that tests the skills of the savviest statesman. In the event, he deeply upset his Israeli hosts, and to a much milder extent his Palestinian ones too, both mainly through sins of omission.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMedia* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI

4 Comments
Posted May 16, 2009 at 1:53 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Words Matter wrote:

The smug superiority of this article is a profound contrast to the gentle soul who currently occupies the Chair of St. Peter. 

“Arcane scholarship?”  Time will remember Joseph Ratzinger for a brilliant theologian when this writer is long forgotten.

May 16, 11:39 pm | [comment link]
2. trooper wrote:

Ditto to the previous commenter.  I can’t say often enough: those who criticize this Holy Father just haven’t read enough of Joseph Ratzinger.  There are tens of thousands of pages, just get through a couple of hundred and you’ll change your mind.  I promise.

May 17, 12:17 am | [comment link]
3. Katherine wrote:

The Economist says, “With a mixture of intense piety and arcane scholarship, he reflects on the Jewish origins of Christianity’s dogmas and rites in a way that shows deep interest in the religion of ancient Israel—yet total conviction that the older faith’s true meaning is to be found only in Christ.”  And what, in the author’s view, is different about this view from that of other believing Christians?  The risen Lord opened the Scriptures to the disciples, showing them their meaning.

May 17, 12:58 am | [comment link]
4. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “And what, in the author’s view, is different about this view from that of other believing Christians?”

Katherine nailed it.

Heh—this article bespeaks the fond fantasies of a man who desperately wants to see the conservative fail.  And Ratzinger is a conservative who is a threat to the progressive Roman Catholics who took Vatican II and ran with it, along with the progressives everywhere who cheered them on.

I’m cheering for Ratzinger.

May 17, 6:54 am | [comment link]
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