Will The Conservatives Ever Be Happy?

Quick answer: no.

Remember this pic of exultant sems in Rome?

The party was almost over the day after Habemus Papam. I suspect that nothing would have satisfied the Catholic Right, especially many of the folks who inhabited the internet that day. Everything seemed like a battle. When your ideology is pitched for battle, anything less than battle and anything less than winning comes up as a failure. and a loss. Joseph Bottum:

Benedict has not done well with (problems)—and perhaps mostly because he was never a good administrator. He was always a serious and absorbed theologian, and his advanced age is not the cause of his incapacity.

Misdiagnosis on the cover-up of bishops. Naturally:

Joseph Ratzinger knew the actual facts, and it took stunning Vatican incompetence to turn him—one of the heroes of that vile era, the man who publicly denounced “the filth” in the church—into a popular villain of reporting on the priest scandals.

Few people would see Pope Benedict as a hero. Others were more far-sighted and discerning. Many others correctly pointed out the problem was with bishops. And the legacy of the second half of the B16 pontificate is that people who want discussion will be targeted and pink-slipped. Convicted criminals will continue on. There may be other reasons why Bill Morris walked and Robert Finn stayed put. The institution can’t be seen to be making moves at the whim of the laity, or worse–the secular press. Newspapers calling for the resignation of a bishop are just about the equivalent of granting permanent tenure.

David Gibson from RNS:

So how is it that Catholic conservatives could go so quickly from ecstasy to agony? To a great degree, it is the way of the world, even in the church.

Partisans tend to graft their own agendas and aspirations onto their favored candidates, whether presidents or popes. Sacred conclaves are hotbeds of messianism every bit as much as today’s domestic electoral process, in part because the church is not immune from politics or polarization.

Disappointment was inevitable because the hopes of Benedict’s fans had blinded them to the parts of his writings (on charity and justice, for example) or his personality traits (such as his loyalty to friends, no matter how incompetent) that didn’t fit with their plans.

This is about right.

If Joseph Ratzinger couldn’t be the messiah, who then, in the college of cardinals will fit the bill. Unless individual Catholics on the ideological Right are willing to reorient themselves to Christ and the realm of the Spirit, they will continue a path of embitterment. Otherwise, we can point to their last happy day: 19 April 2005.

My reaction to that day: a shrug. I hope I haven’t fallen into another trap, a listless apathy that cares little for who sits in the Chair of Peter.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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5 Responses to Will The Conservatives Ever Be Happy?

  1. John Drake says:

    Listless is not the word. You have more animosity toward everyone in the church hierarchy than perhaps anyone outside the National catholic Reporter.

    • Todd says:

      I’m deeply critical of men I see as largely unable to handle the demands of their ministry. It could be that you express annoyance I don’t withhold criticism of people such as Cardinal Mahony, often lumped with liberals.

      I point out I’ve been affirming of what I personally experienced as aspects of Bishop Finn’s ministry I found superior to that of his predecessor. I’ve certainly been more fair, and overall more balanced in my assessment than most any conservative Catholic blogger.

    • Jimmy Mac says:

      What they sow, so shall they reap.

  2. John McGrath says:

    No. In some ways conservatism is an addiction, compulsive, pushing to extremes.

  3. Copernicus says:

    Thanks, Todd, my thoughts exactly, as so often with what you write.

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