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The Hard Line on Ratzinger

That didn't take long . . . Update: The editorialists weigh in!

3:00 PM, Apr 19, 2005 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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THE MEDIA clichés are already hardening around Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, just hours after becoming Pope Benedict XVI. Will they brook any dissent from the caricature they're drawing?

"German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the strict defender of Catholic orthodoxy for the past 23 years, was elected Pope on Tuesday despite a widespread assumption he was too old and divisive to win election."

--Reuters

"Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, the church's leading hard-liner, was elected the new pope Tuesday evening in the first conclave of the new millennium."

--William J. Kole, Associated Press

"Thanks for your emails both sympathizing and telling me to leave the Church entirely. But I am still in shock. This was not an act of continuity. There is simply no other figure more extreme than the new Pope on the issues that divide the Church. No one. He raised the stakes even further by his extraordinarily bold homily at the beginning of the conclave, where he all but declared a war on modernity, liberalism (meaning modern liberal democracy of all stripes) and freedom of thought and conscience. . . . His views on the subordinate role of women in the Church and society, the marginalization of homosexuals (he once argued that violence against them was predictable if they kept pushing for rights), the impermissibility of any sexual act that does not involve the depositing of semen in a fertile uterus, and the inadmissability of any open discourse with other faiths reveal him as even more hardline than the previous pope."

--Andrew Sullivan

"And what is the creed of the Church? That is for the Grand Inquisitor to decide."

--Andrew Sullivan

"And so the Catholic church accelerates its turn toward authoritarianism, hostility to modernity, assertion of papal supremacy and quashing of internal debate and dissent. We are back to the nineteenth century."

--Andrew Sullivan

" A man of deep personal faith who choked up as he delivered the homily at Pope John Paul II's funeral, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger also has alienated some Roman Catholics with his zeal in enforcing church orthodoxy."

--Melissa Eddy, Associated Press

"Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a hard-line doctrinal watchdog, was elected by Roman Catholic cardinals in Vatican City today as the successor to the enormously popular John Paul II as pope for the world's one billion Catholics. . . . The Catholic Church is hugely divided and many of its members are seriously disaffected."

--Daryl Strickland, Los Angeles Times

"In the Vatican, he has been the driving force behind crackdowns on liberation theology, religious pluralism, challenges to traditional moral teachings on issues such as homosexuality, and dissent on such issues as women's ordination."

--CNN

" Joseph Ratzinger, the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI, turned 78 last Saturday and is widely expected to maintain John Paul II's deeply conservative line."

--London Telegraph

"Hardline Catholics got their man Tuesday, when the College of Cardinals elected its dean, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as the 265th pope. . . . Ratzinger is generally considered to have been a driving force behind several of the Catholic Church's strictest and most social divisive moves in recent years. In particular, he has held the line on homosexuality, women's ordination, and the vein of progressive thinking known as liberation theology. Going into the secret conclave, many observers wondered whether the cardinals would seek a kind of compromise figure, but that was not to be."

--Rema Rahman, Village Voice