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"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von M√ľnchhausen

Pope Benedict XVI

And so it goes. The white smoke has risen, and against 7/1 odds, the 78-year-old Joseph Ratzinger has been elected Pope Benedict XVI.

In choosing the name Benedict, this German theologian linked himself not only to a long line of former popes but also to St. Benedict, the founder of Christian monasticism, who was proclaimed by Pope Paul VI in 1964 to be the "patron and protector of Europe." The monasteries that St. Benedict founded - and for which he wrote the "Rule," the basic guide to monastic living - became the keepers of culture and piety in medieval Europe.
Church scholars suggested that Pope Benedict XVI may be positioning himself as the new savior of Europe, rescuing the Continent from what he called in his homily on Monday "the dictatorship of relativism." —The New York Times
It's this sort of hard-line conservativism that has many more liberal-minded Catholics worried about the direction of the Church. Ratzinger's reputation for unflagging tenacity and dogmatism precedes him.
Nicknamed "God's rottweiler" and the "Panzerkardinal" he takes the same unyielding stance on issues such as artificial contraception, abortion and homosexuality - which he has personally called "intrinsically evil". He called for pro-abortion politicians to be denied communion during the US election campaign. He has argued that Europe should be re-Christianised and that Turkey should not be admitted into the European Union.
The Independent
To be sure, he's a tough customer, but it's this quote that got me. Ratzinger said:
In the Church, priests also are sinners. But I am personally convinced that the constant presence in the press of the sins of Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign, as the percentage of these offenses among priests is not higher than in other categories, and perhaps it is even lower.
In the United States, there is constant news on this topic, but less than 1 percent of priests are guilty of acts of this type. The constant presence of these news items does not correspond to the objectivity of the information nor to the statistical objectivity of the facts.
—from "Cardinal Ratzinger Sees a Media Campaign Against Church," Zenit.org, December 3, 2002, as quoted by Newsday
To me, this is sheer deflection of the issue. And while at least according to one Catholic source, the number of priests who have been charged with abuse represent a proportion of the population significantly lower than the general population, it does not address the issue of how the Church simply shifted these priests around for years without addressing the problem.

It's a new era of conservatism in the Church. Boy am I glad I'm not Catholic.

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The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.