Posted By: Damian Thompson at Mar 20, 2009
The Pope needs to be protected from Catholics
We learned this morning that "Vatican insiders" consider Benedict XVI "a disaster". It's true. They do think that. He's a disaster for them, and their determination to turn the Catholic Church into a touchy-feely forum in which uncomfortable teachings and traditions are "modernised" to impress non-Catholics. Until the Williamson affair, the media weren't sufficiently interested in attacking Benedict XVI to be useful. But now, after that own goal... YES!!!
Take the furore over condoms. I don't think the Pope should have strayed into the topic of condoms and Aids, but what he said didn't represent a hardening of the Church's line on this subject. Post-Williamson, however, the liberal media have slipped back into anti-papal default mode, which suits certain "Catholics" just fine. Consider this piece by a creep called Robert S McElvaine, Professor of Arts & Letters at Millsaps College. "Impeach the Pope," he screeched in the Washington Post Online.
The Church's opposition to birth control is largely an outgrowth of its all-male composition and those males' attempts to degrade women's physical powers by asserting that women and the intercourse into which they supposedly tempt men are necessary evils ("It is well for a man not to touch a woman," Paul instructed the Christians of Corinth), the only purpose of which is procreation ... Let's start a movement within the Catholic Church to impeach Pope Benedict XVI and remove him from office. While we're at it, let's replace him with a woman.
Rant, rant, rant. But this is the most preposterous bit: "I am a Catholic and the idea that such a man is God's spokesperson [yes, 'spokesperson'] on earth is absurd to me." Actually, Professor, if you're a Catholic you should know that Benedict can be God's spokesman and hold views unaccaptable to the religion page of the Washington Post... but there's no point in arguing.
The point is that Benedict's most relentless critics, the ones who are determined to extract every last ounce of rhetorical advantage from his predicament, are liberal Catholics. These days, for example, I can hardly bear to visit Andrew Sullivan's brilliant website because he has constructed a caricature of a gay-bashing fundamentalist Pope that collapses as soon as you read what Joseph Ratzinger has actually written. And as for the Tablet crowd, they will be just quivering with Schadenfreude right now.
All of which makes it even more urgent that the Vatican press office is completely reconstructed. In allowing a question about condoms to be asked aboard the papal plane, Fr Lombardi screwed up spectacularly. He should go. The Pope needs a far more subtle and ingenious media spokesman - if only to protect him from his fellow Catholics.