Friday, April 22, 2005

The New Pope

The following two paragraphs are from Anne Applebaum's recent piece on the new pope:

"For the many Europeans who dislike religion, it was easy enough to dismiss the late pope as a "backward" Pole, and to find him inconsequential even when he somehow persuaded millions of young people to attend his outdoor "youth" Masses. But the advent of a German pope, who in fact shares many of John Paul II's views, may well make religion part of the European political debate again, this time on the western as well as the eastern half of the continent. At the very least, a German-speaking pope will be hard for Germans to ignore.

This will be a debate worth watching, even if you aren't Catholic or religious (and I am neither), because it will reveal much about the direction in which European politics is heading. It might also hold clues to the future of the battered, long-suffering transatlantic relationship. While many of the cultural differences between Europe and America are vastly overstated, the religious differences are profound. It's hard to be in politics in this country and not at least pay lip service to religion, as John Kerry can attest. In Europe, by contrast, political leaders who profess religious beliefs are derided. Tony Blair is mocked for his piety; the French protested when their president went to the pope's funeral; and the Italian politician Rocco Buttiglione had to withdraw his candidacy as European commissioner on the grounds that his Catholicism might get in the way of his legal judgment."

And from the WSJ today, confirmation that the pope is, well, Catholic. This is really what has liberals upset, and is spurring all of these ridiculous headlines, written by horrified and indignant progressive journalists about the pope being an "arch-conservative". I hate to mix issues, but it strikes me that liberals want and expect in a kind of infantile and insistent way for the pope to be a progressive the way they want judges to be progressive. Judges aren't popes of course; but liberals can't understand that people still exist and even occupy positions of authority who don't think the way they do. They can't abide that popes will be Catholic and that judges will (or should) be constitutionalists.

Narcissistic liberals expect everything to bend to their will, which is why instead of simply professing atheism and living with their tension with organized religion they want something so ridiculous as for a pope to be socially permissive. Liberals can't understand why everyone can't just be blandly "spiritual" and shop at Whole Foods. They want religion without its moral baggage.


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