Will the next pope be an admired world figure?

It seems to me there’s a certain parallel between John Paul II and Ronald Reagan. Both were immensely popular for their hopefulness, their buoyancy, their ability to connect with all sorts of people, their love for what they led, their directness and willingness to stand on principle. Both were viewed with a mixture of contempt and grudging admiration by those who count as our betters.

Both were also actors. In Reagan’s case it seems that his success was both the culmination and the incipient final collapse of the postwar conservative movement, and more generally of an America that stood for ideals but was not itself wholly abstract, so that it made sense to speak of things like “American traditions,” “limited government,” and “pride in America” as things we could share that would knit us together. It turned out that he had achieved success by seeming to make present something that had all but disappeared.

I can’t help but feel that something a bit similar may be true of the late pope, and there may be very hard times ahead for the Catholic Church as a public institution. The Church of today has a certain inherited position of respect and importance in the world, and Vatican II put off trouble by downplaying its essential opposition to fundamental principles of modern life that have become more and more compulsory. It should be clear though that from the standpoint of modern public law the Church is not the sacrament of unity of mankind but a hate crime. Once the emotion dissipates, and the new pope turns out to be Catholic but without John Paul’s glamour, the relation between the Church and the modern ordering of government and society may become much more difficult to fuzz. So I’d prepare for some bumps to come. Going with the flow and looking on the bright side isn’t going to do the job.

8 thoughts on “Will the next pope be an admired world figure?”

  1. “It turned out that he had ac
    “It turned out that he had achieved success by seeming to make present something that had all but disappeared.”

    So true of Reagan. Not necessarily true of John Paul II. At least with respect to Poland, I believe he embodied impulses and connections that were in fact present, and that had a contemporary power within that environment. Outside of Poland—say, in France—this was not the case, and in fact in western Europe he had little or no power, because he had little or nothing to connect with.

    “It should be clear though that from the standpoint of modern public law the Church is not the sacrament of unity of mankind but a hate crime.”

    This is hardly the first time in the Church’s history that it has been considered a criminal or anti-social enterprise. It should revel in this exalted status, and instead of devoting energy to answering liberal critics, it should go on the offensive and call upon secular liberalism to answer for its aberrations.

  2. Rumsfeld as Pope:
    This commentator reads to Chronicles and American Conservative,he sounds as Buchanan,Sam Francis and Trifkovichttp://memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD89205

  3. Vatican II is a major part of the problem
    I disagree with your assertion that Vatican II helped the Church gain a foothold with the modern world. If anything it help(if not directly) cause many of the major problems we see in the church. John Paul II may have been greatly respected, and that is certainly important, but he was also the least obeyed pope of recent times(especially in terms of sexual morality). Half the stuff that occurred under his pontificate would have never been possible under say Pius X.

    Surrending to the modern world is not the answer, which many advocates of Vatican II claim. In fact Christ himself and the Apostles warned against such actions. Yes be active in the world, but dont surrender the faith to the whims of modern society.

    • I don’t see a statement that
      I don’t see a statement that Vatican II put off trouble by downplaying an essential problem as a compliment. Quite the reverse.

      As to the late pope, who had the actual post-Vatican II situation to deal with, for all I know things would have turned out worse if he had tried to enforce things rather than propound principle while trying to reach out and make nice with everyone and everything imaginable. I’ve never tried to run a worldwide institution with a billion members that in the nature of things depends mostly on voluntary cooperation springing from a common mind that in 1978 simply wasn’t there. As it is Catholic principle and organizational unity remain while the Vatican II generation is dying without many successors and liberal religion is quite visibly dead. We will see how things go during the next pontificate.

      Rem tene, verba sequentur.

      • I clearly misunderstood your point
        As for the Vatican II generation dying off, yes this certainly provides us Traditionalists with an oppurtunity. But I still believe that a grassroots movements particularly among the laity is the real key to restoring tradition in the church.

        • The point was probably a bit
          The point was probably a bit vague. I suppose the basic thought behind the entry is that there are going to be some storms now that JP II is gone. The idea that the Church, the modern world, and all world religions from atheism to Zen can all be reconciled in a golden glow is going to go the way of Ronald Reagan’s rosy synthesis of everything one might like to think of in connection with America. Once it turns out that the new pope is still a Catholic I’m afraid the attacks on the Church are going to be open, widespread, comprehensive and bitter, and it’s likely a strong party within the institutional Church will join them.

          Agreed that what happens at the grassroots is very important for the Church.

          Rem tene, verba sequentur.


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