Why the New Pope Isn't Catholic-And Why I Still Am

By Mansueto, Anthony | Tikkun, July/August 2005 | Go to article overview

Why the New Pope Isn't Catholic-And Why I Still Am


Mansueto, Anthony, Tikkun


The new pope isn't Catholic. Joseph Ratzinger is a Lutheran. And he is not the sort of liberal, tolerant Lutheran we have become accustomed to respecting and engaging in our interfaith dialogues, but rather a dangerous and authoritarian follower of Paul and Augustine who threatens to lead the Catholic world into fascism. As such, Ratzinger has set himself outside the Church and, even if he has taken most of the Church's institutional resources with him, he has left those of us who remain faithful to the historic tradition of the Catholic Church to resist, to guard its message of meaning and hope, and to rebuild.

These are audacious claims that require some justification. There is no way to do this without a bit of church history.

The Emergence of Christianity

Christianity has, historically, been an amalgam of very different socioreligious and political-theological traditions that have all been very much in tension with each other. This tension goes back to the origins of the religion. Most scholars, for example, now regard Jesus as essentially a Hillelschool Pharisee whose teaching focused on ethical conduct, an emphasis still visible in the synoptic Gospels and the Letter of James. Paul, on the other hand, put forward a new theology that broke radically with Judaism, arguing that it is impossible for a sinful humanity to fulfill the Law and that we can be redeemed only by faith in the crucified and risen Christ.

This tension was amplified by the differing ways in which the various cultures that eventually gave birth to Christendom appropriated the Christian tradition. The Celts, whose tradition had always emphasized wisdom and ethical conduct, stressed the message of the synoptics-who regarded Jesus as a wisdom teacher and moral exemplarand developed a spirituality centered on learning, penance, and the struggle for social justice. This was the tradition of Pelagius, the British monk whose work captivated the hearts and minds of Europe during the fourth century. The Germans, on the other hand, who were great warriors, regarded Jesus as a victorious warlord who conquered Satan and bestowed the "booty" of eternal life as a free gift on his faithful followers. North Africans, who lived in one of the most exploited regions of the Empire, regarded Christianity as first and foremost an anti-imperial ideology and gave the Church its tradition of martyrdom. After Christianity was legalized under Constantine, many North Africans (followers of Donatus of Casae Nigrae) refused to recognize the leadership of bishops who had collaborated with the Empire during the last persecution. Rome and what was left of the old Roman aristocracy argued that valid office, not personal sanctity, was the criterion for exercising religious leadership. The Byzantine East fused Christian symbols with Neoplatonic philosophy to craft a sacral monarchic ideology that kept the Roman Empire alive for another thousand years.

These struggles all came to a head in the late fourth and early fifth centuries. The pivotal figure in this regard was Augustine, who embraced an essentially Pauline theology and won decisions from major church councils against the Pelagians and the Donatists. North Africa, which would have nothing to do with an imperial church, essentially abandoned Christianity, welcoming the armies of Dar-al-Islam as liberators when they arrived some two centuries later. But the Germanic warlords liked Augustinian theology, because it treated military force and conquest as at least a necessary evil, and because its emphasis on salvation as a free gift from God resonated with their own spontaneous appropriation of the gospel. The Romans, meanwhile, liked Augustinianism because it defended the legitimacy of office against the claims of the Donatists and others who demanded real virtue as the condition of leadership.

What Makes Catholicism Distinct from Other Forms of Christianity

In practice, however, popular Catholicism remained profoundly Pelagian, stressing the essential goodness of humanity and our capacity for wisdom and moral virtue. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Why the New Pope Isn't Catholic-And Why I Still Am
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.