A Progressive American Catholic Worker Response to the Rise of Ratsinger


Within minutes of the media announcement that Cardinal Ratizinger was selected Pope Benedict – I refuse to call a process whereby less than 1% of 1% can vote an election – I received an email asking if I was going to switch churches or wait to be excommunicated! My friends laughed and said “A progressive American Catholic is now a double oxymoron!”

The first Pope joke is already racing around Rome. When gregarious and generous Pope John XXIII was made pope, his first words were “Be not afraid!” Now when Pope Benedict is sworn in his first words will be “Be afraid! Be very afraid!”

For those of you who are not Catholic, selecting Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope is a lot like selecting Attorney General John Ashcroft as President. Ratzinger has been the enforcer of orthodoxy for years. No women priests. No gay unions. No questioning authority. Fall in line.

As a progressive American Catholic I feel uncomfortably out of place – both in country and in church. While the last Pope spoke passionately about poverty and peace and solidarity – these principles were undercut by the practices of protection of the all-male clerical hierarchy.

Likewise, we have a president who speaks boldly about freedom and democracy and opportunity – yet these same principles are undercut by practices of global military and economic domination and widespread denial of social and human rights at home and abroad.

Yet I, and millions of others, are not leaving – country or church. Millions refused to give up and go to Canada when our current fundamentalist president was elected.

And we millions are not leaving the catholic church just because the fundamentalists have assumed power there as well.

Our church and our country have wandered far away from the principles of respect and justice and equality that are supposed to be the foundations of each. Yet, we will not leave.

It is time to stand and struggle for the soul of church and country – and, I am afraid, more frequently than I would like, to struggle with both our church and country to force them to stand consistently for their principles.

If our country will not stand up for justice for civilians in Iraq, prisoners here and abroad, a living wage, racial justice, quality public schools, fair healthcare, and reigning in national and international corporate power – then it is up to us to do it. Our country is the one of Harriet Tubman, Patrick Henry, Eleanor Roosevelt, Cesar Chavez, and Martin Luther King. They inspire us and they give us hope to push forward in these times.

If our church will not stand up for women leaders, accountability for abuses, democracy in our institutions, healthy sexuality, equality for people of all orientations, and real respect for all life – including the born – then it is up to us to do it. Our church is the one of Archbishop Oscar Romero, Joan of Arc, Philip Berrigan, Dorothy Day and Francis of Assisi. They inspire us and give us hope to push forward in these times.

Benedict and George – we are not leaving. It is our church and our country. We are going to stay and struggle for the soul of both, with love and justice for all.

BILL QUIGLEY is a lifelong Irish Catholic U.S.citizen who teaches at Loyola University New OrleansSchool of Law. His email is quigley@loyno.edu

November 30, 2015
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Embrace of Totalitarianism is America’s Dirty Little Secret
Omur Sahin Keyif
An Assassination in Turkey: the Killing of Tahir Elci
Uri Avnery
There is No Such Thing as International Terrorism
Robert Fisk
70,000 Kalashnikovs: Cameron’s “Moderate” Rebels
Jamie Davidson
Distortion, Revisionism & the Liberal Media
Patrick Cockburn
Nasty Surprises: the Problem With Bombing ISIS
Robert Hunziker
The Looming Transnational Battlefield
Ahmed Gaya
Breaking the Climate Mold: Fighting for the Planet and Justice
Matt Peppe
Alan Gross’s Improbable Tales on 60 Minutes
Norman Pollack
Israel and ISIS: Needed, a Thorough Accounting
Colin Todhunter
India – Procession of the Dead: Shopping Malls and Shit
Roger Annis
Canada’s New Climate-Denying National Government
Binoy Kampmark
Straining the Republic: France’s State of Emergency
Bill Blunden
Glenn Greenwald Stands by the Official Narrative
Jack Rasmus
Japan’s 5th Recession in 7 Years
Karen Lee Wald
Inside the Colombia Peace Deal
Geoff Dutton
War in Our Time
Charles R. Larson
Twofers for Carly Fiorina
John Dear
An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind
Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism
Dan Glazebrook
Deadliest Terror in the World: the West’s Latest Gift to Africa
Mark Hand
Escape From New York: the Emancipation of Activist Cecily McMillan
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
Mats Svensson
Madness in Hebron: Hashem Had No Enemies, Yet Hashem Was Hated
Walter Brasch
Terrorism on American Soil
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Bears, Dreaming and the Frontier of Wonder
Michael Welton
Yahweh is Not Exactly Politically Correct
Joseph Natoli
A Politics of Stupid and How to Leave It Behind
John Cox
You Should Fear Racism and Xenophobia, Not Syrian Refugees or Muslims
Barrie Gilbert
Sacrificing the Grizzlies of Katmai: the Plan to Turn Brooks Camp Into a Theme Park
Rev. William Alberts
The Church of “Something Else” in “an Ecclesiastical Desert”
Andrew Gavin Marshall
Bank Crimes Pay
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Thomas S. Harrington
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe and the Death of Ezra Schwartz
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability