Ratz!

Boy, when I wrote a piece for The American Spectator suggesting that the next pope not allow most priests to marry, I had no idea that we'd have a new pope so quickly, or that he would be so very likely to resist most calls to reform. The piece may be the fastest-rotting piece of punditry I have ever produced, though that didn't stop readers from giving it to me good in Reader Mail. Andrew Sullivan, the blogger Time tapped to profile Benedict XVI, was beside himself on Tuesday. He called it an "insular and regressive choice" and speculated that the infamous voting-rules change (which would allow a simple majority to prevail after a ridiculously long period of deadlock) had a lot to do with Ratzinger's election. Sullivan said a lot of other things, but here was my favorite bit:

THE FUNDAMENTALIST TRIUMPH: And so the Catholic church accelerates its turn toward authoritarianism, hostility to modernity, assertion of papal supremacy and quashing of internal debate and dissent. We are back to the nineteenth century. Maybe this is a necessary moment. Maybe pressing this movement to its logical conclusion will clarify things. But those of us who are struggling against what our Church is becoming, and the repressive priorities it is embracing, can only contemplate a form of despair. The Grand Inquisitor, who has essentially run the Church for the last few years, is now the public face. John Paul II will soon be seen as a liberal. The hard right has now cemented its complete control of the Catholic church. And so . . . to prayer. What else do we now have?

And, compared to his mates in the British press, Sullivan took it easy on the Vatican. The Sun, for instance, led with the fact that the current pope was at one point a Hitler Youth.

The somewhat less sensational [And less British -- ed.] Jerusalem Post jumped to his defense. And I quote:

The choice of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new pope on Tuesday, Jewish religious leaders say, is a sign that the warming ties initiated by Pope John Paul II between the Vatican and Jews will continue.

Oh but try telling that to the American press. I've seen the leading edge of the first reports and columns in my fair country, and the mood can politely be described as irate. More to come, or, as Matt Drudge would say, developing . . .

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