April 20, 2005


Upright But No Panzer Pope: Why he was chosen—and why he's no narrow-minded blockhead. (Uwe Siemon-Netto, 04/20/2005, UPI)

You don't have to be a soothsayer to guess why Ratzinger was chosen over Italian, Latin American, and African candidates to lead the church. As the Rev. Anthony Figueirero, an Indian-born former papal adviser, said Tuesday prior to Ratzinger's elevation, "Let the Church in the Third World continue its growth—it is the global North that has to be re-evangelized," meaning it is that part of the globe the pope must be particularly familiar with.

Hence a pope from an almost post-Christian country was needed to continue the missionary dynamism John Paul II gave top priority to during his long ministry. John Paul, even as an old man, was stellar in the eyes of young people. He had promised to travel to Cologne, Germany, in August to be with the hundreds and thousands of young people attending World Youth Day in that ancient Roman city on the Rhine.

Now Ratzinger, as Benedict XVI, will undertake his first journey abroad since his election to that very place where he was once a priest. And there he will address his fellow Germans—and others—not in the snarling tone of a Panzer officer but with the mild and melodious voice that always seems to surprise those who meet him for the first time.

He will doubtless baffle many of his former detractors by stressing the need for a return to reason, which is a central theme of his theology. For Ratzinger, the significance of reason was precisely why John the Evangelist used the word, "Logos," in referring to Christ in the opening sentence of his Gospel.

"'Logos' denotes reason and meaning, but also Word," Ratzinger wrote. "The God, who is Logos, assures us of the rationality of the world, the rationality of our being, the divine character of reason, and the reasonable character of God, even though God's rationality surpasses ours immeasurably and appears to us as darkness."

Ratzinger insists, "Rationality has been the postulate and the condition of Christianity and will remain a European legacy with which we can confront peacefully and positively Islam as well as the great Asian religions."

But where this rationality "reduces the great values of our being to subjectivity, then it will endanger and destroy man, it will amputate man."

Hence, he continued, "Europe must defend reason. To this extent we must be grateful to secular society and the Enlightenment. It must remain a thorn in our side, as secular society must accept the (Christian) thorn it its side—meaning the founding power of the Christian religion in Europe."

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 20, 2005 12:19 PM

Well, there you have it, the "panzer Pope". Took all of about 12 hours, eh?

Posted by: ratbert at April 20, 2005 9:25 PM

His definition of reason does not seem very reasonable.

Darkness is light, light then must be darkness. Sounds kind of manichean, unless it is just totally incoherent.

(He was called the panzer cardinal before he put on the funny hat, ratbert.)

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 21, 2005 4:50 PM


reason is a tool to be used, not a way of understanding the world in and of itself

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2005 4:59 PM

Great heading, oj.

Posted by: Tom at April 22, 2005 10:27 AM