April 20, 2005
Family values advocates from both the Catholic and Protestant communities are applauding the choice of former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger -- now known as Pope Benedict XVI -- as the new pontiff or "Holy Father" of the Roman Catholic Church.
Many Catholic clergy around the world reacted with excitement to the news of Ratzinger's election. Some of the German cardinals, who were among the Conclave that convened to choose the successor to Pope John Paul II, told reporters that spontaneous applause broke out as soon as members of the College realized Ratzinger had been elected. American Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, told Associated Press the new pope was selected after much prayer and what the cardinals believe was God's guidance.
An AP report notes that some American Catholics were hoping for a more liberal successor to John Paul II; but others are delighted that Pope Benedict XVI has a history of upholding church teachings against contemporary culture' militant secularism and relativism. Catholics in the Public Square founder and president Marlene Elwell, who met then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in Rome 15 years ago, says the Catholic Church is blessed with a very gifted leader in Pope Benedict XVI. "He is a humble servant of great ability who will ensure that the church remains anchored in the truth."
And Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, says that among the most important gifts the new pope has demonstrated during his priesthood are his willingness "to articulate the fact that there is such a thing as truth" and his compassionate commitment to that message.
"To tell the culture that there is a right and wrong, and we can know it, is a key demand of compassion, a requirement of being a good Shepherd," Pavone says. He adds that he and the other members of Priests for Life rejoice in the election of Pope Benedict XVI and believe the new pontiff "will be a blessing for the pro-life movement, and for all people who find comfort that there is such a thing as truth, particularly the truth that life is sacred."
American Life League president Judie Brown comments that while yesterday's historic announcement marked the beginning of a new pontificate, "the steadfast traditions and teachings of the Catholic Church are forever the same." Now, she notes, the new pope must begin the monumental task of leading the Catholic faithful worldwide, and being steadfast even as many in the media and the public speculate that he should consider changes in some of the foundational church teachings.
Brown says the late Pope John Paul II provided a heroic example in leading the Roman Catholic faithful in the church's consistent teachings celebrating the "inherent dignity of every human person from fertilization to natural death." She says her group is confident that Benedict XVI will follow in the late pope's footsteps, and "will also teach this message with courage."
The American Life League president says her organization embraces the new pope as the 265th successor of St. Peter. Also, she adds, "We trust that his faith, actions and words will challenge the human family to create a culture of life and to embrace Christ's love for all of his children."
Pro-Family Protestants Commend Catholics' Choice
Many pro-life and pro-family Protestants are adding their voices to those in the Catholic community who look forward with hope to the papacy of Benedict XVI. The American Family Association of Michigan, a statewide family values group supported by both Roman Catholics and other Christians, enthusiastically welcomed the new pontiff's election.
AFA of Michigan president Gary Glenn notes that Cardinal Ratzinger's service to the Catholic Church has been comparable to the motto of the U.S. Marines -- that is, "semper fidelis" or, in other words, "'always faithful' in defense of traditional Christian doctrine regarding marriage, morality, the family and protection prenatal life."
Praising the new pope's record of leadership as a cardinal, Glenn notes that Ratzinger issued publications upholding marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman and reaffirming the church's staunch opposition to homosexual behavior and abortion.
Also, the Michigan activist points out that Cardinal Ratzinger was outspoken about family values during the 2004 U.S. presidential campaign and even authored a memorandum saying Catholic politicians who support legal abortion -- like Senator John Kerry and Michigan's Governor Jennifer Granholm -- should be denied communion, along with Catholics who vote for such politicians.
Ratzinger's stances on these issues caused many pro-abortion and pro-homosexual advocates to label him as an adversary. Advocate, a homosexual news magazine, called the new pope "anti-gay" and "a hardline guardian of conservative doctrine," while Reuters reported that many homosexual Catholics have expressed disappointment over his election.
Also, the group Soulforce has condemned Ratzinger for refusing to meet with its representatives back in 2000 when they were in Rome, saying his refusal "indicates his unwillingness to even acknowledge the Spirit evident in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people." In a news release, Soulforce denounced the former cardinal, stating that he now "brings the inquisition to his appointment as pope."
In light of such reports, AFA-Michigan's Glenn comments, "If a good man is known by those who condemn him as much as by those who support him, certainly faithful Catholics and all who stand for traditional family values ... have all the more reason to welcome Cardinal Ratzinger's selection."
Liberal Attacks to Be Expected
Gary Bauer of American Values says it is no surprise that the Left in the U.S. and around the world are expressing disappointment. He says since Benedict XVI is a theological conservative, it is predictable that the "usual parade of radical feminists, homosexual-rights advocates, and left-wing clerics will be trotted out to bemoan his election."
Bauer notes that the "Democratic Underground" is already calling the new pontiff the "Nazi Pope" because of the disclosure that Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth during his teen years in Germany, and during World War II he was drafted into a German anti-aircraft unit. Membership in the Nazi youth movement was compulsory for German boys, but Ratzinger was never active in the organization, and according to him he never fired a shot during his military service. But what is more important, Bauer asserts, is that the new pope "has a whole life we can judge over the last 60 years."
The conservative activist points out that Ratzinger has been a leader in Catholic/Jewish reconciliation, who helped to outline the Catholic Church's shortcomings in its treatment of Jews over the years. "There is every reason to believe he will continue that reconciliation," Bauer says, and he adds that Pope Benedict XVI can also be expected to fervently oppose what he has called "the dictatorship of relativism," which is taking root in Western society.
Catholics in the Public Square (http://www.catholicsinthepublicsquare.org)
Priests for Life (http://www.priestsforlife.org)
The American Life League (http://www.all.org)
American Family Association of Michigan (http://www.afamichigan.org)
American Values (http://www.ouramericanvalues.org)
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