Ratzinger: what it means for Mormons

The short answer: nothing.

Actually, not having an African or Latin American pope probably helps our missionary effort in those areas (the reasoning being that a "local" pope may have reenergised lapsed and former Catholics who might otherwise be attracted to Mormonism).

As soon as I heard I rushed to find my Catholic friend to tell him. The crushing look of disappointment on his face was unforgettable. "We need a pastoral not a doctrinal pope", he said. "Plus, he’s German."

Congratulations to Pope Benedict XVI from BCC. We know you read us.


  1. Reading some of the reaction around the web it is apparent that the honeymoon is over. All that nice stuff about JPII is forgotten; now the knives are out for the new guy. Catholic-bashers welcome back!

  2. Not so much Catholic-bashers, just bashers of reactionary, fundamentalist, ultra-conservative Catholicism, many of whom are Catholics themselves

  3. reactionary, fundamentalist, ultra-conservative Catholicism

    I think we should wait to see how Ratzinger’s papacy pans out. He seems to have been prejudged, kind of like everyone expects Boyd K. Packer to be a bulldog. Benson was a conservative apostle, but a fairly cuddly prophet.

    Anyway, I like Ratzinger. So there!

  4. I loved him on Cheers. Cliff Clavin was hilarious.

  5. It’s an interesting shift, not because of any stance the new pope may have, but in public perception — already we’ve gone from the outpouring of love for JPII to revert to mistrust like we’re more used to.

    How long before mormons start doing the same thing?

  6. Another thought as to what it means for Mormons:

    A conservative pope makes Mormon conservatism easier.

    But this is all hogwash. None of the papabili were raging liberals. Also, Ratzinger was JPII’s right hand man for years. All this love for the dead guy, but suspicion of the new guy is shallow: they ain’t much different. Sure, maybe JP was more charismatic, but who cares? And how do we know that Ratzinger’s not a dude anyway. Perhaps he is.

    One last thing: this is good for Germany and Germans. A German hero instead of a villain.

  7. danithew says:

    He was the only candidate for the papacy whose name I was familiar with. I only heard three tidbits about him previously: 1) that he was very conservative; 2) that he was very close to the previous Pope and 3) that when he was younger he had a very brief stint as a member of the Hitler Youth. I get the impression that the third factor doesn’t mean all that much.

    I’m off to read more about him.

  8. According to CNN, all German boys were enrolled in the Hitler Youth at some point late in the war. Sort of like LDS boys in the Boy Scouts.

  9. Ratzinger’s elevation makes it less likely that some compromise can be reached on the celibacy of priests.

    The Friday before last I had to play organ for a memorial mass for JPII. In his homily, the priest said that some critics want the church to change but that “we know” that celibacy has always been the will of God, so that the priest can devote all energies to his pastoral duties.

    I didn’t bother to tell him that, in fact, for centuries celibacy was hardly practiced, and that, in fact, (in a stroke of illogic reminiscent of the discussions on the other thread (Problematizing. . .)) Anglican priests who convert may keep their wives. (Although, I doubt Anglican women priests who convert are able to remain ordained)

    I guess this is more sensible than the policy of Urban II who, in 1095 had priests’ wives sold into slavery and their children abandoned.

  10. Shawn Bailey says:

    Danithew and Mark (nos. 7 & 8): an older gentleman in my ward growing up had been a member of the Hitler youth. And he was permitted to hold the real thing (i.e., the Priesthood restored to the earth by heavenly messengers)!

  11. Ronan: Benson was a conservative apostle, but a fairly cuddly prophet.

    You mean before or after strokes rendered him braindead?

  12. HL Rogers says:

    And he taught one mean German high school class.

  13. AT, that was in poor taste, man. boo!

  14. AT, yeah, so he had strokes. What’s your excuse?

  15. Poor taste? I’m serious. I just don’t equate enfeeblement with cuddliness. You don’t remember the time in General Conference when President Benson read the same page twice in a row? Or how about the time that he got up and started wandering around behind the podium? I think it was Monson who had to get up and lead him back to his seat.

  16. alamojag says:

    AT, yep, age happens to many of the GAs, including Presidents of the Church. I remember hearing when Pres McKay was nearing the end that he speculated on some kind of “pre-death” release like King Benjamin had. Sort of turn things over to a younger, more physically capable man and take a retirement.

    You and I should live to be so old.

  17. hey AT, drop me an email.

  18. Email’s on the way, Steve. Though you could just as easily send me one.

  19. alamojag: age happens to many of the GAs, including Presidents of the Church… You and I should live to be so old.

    Old indeed. One thing is certain: Mortal probation has boundaries, and they often aren’t as well defined as they should be. Death even happened to the Pope (who, like the lovely Ms. Schiavo, was on a feeding tube)–hence this thread. It may seem disrespectful, but the way I see it is like this: If we can laugh at the cute stuff that infants and toddlers do, then why can’t we laugh at the cute stuff that brain dead old people do?

  20. danithew says:

    Perhaps age should be a topic of discussion with this Pope. I’ve heard or read somewhere that he is 78 years old. The age of retirement for cardinals is 80(?).

    This is one small detail in which the LDS Church and Catholics are similar. Our general authorities (like cardinals) have a retirement age — but the Prophet of the Church (and I guess the apostles to) hold their positions until their dying day.

    Its interesting to read about President McKay’s consideration of a pre-death release. Supposedly the last Pope also agonized over whether to retire at some point or not. He (like President McKay) chose the latter.

  21. A moment from my mission just came back to me.

    We met a man who was a High Councilor assigned to President Benson’s ward. President Benson was on the stand a lot and would usually end up sitting right next to this man. President Benson never remembered his name despite meeting him over and over again. Well, because President Benson couldn’t remember this man’s name or face the man is now inactive — at least that was the reason he gave us.

    It may be common knowledge around here but learning that President Benson’s mind was gone before he was actually absent from General Conference explains a lot about that particular situation.

  22. danithew says:

    I thought this linked article helped to display a number of the significant hardline positions that this Pope has espoused in the past:


    Despite my interest in the Middle East, I was not previously aware that the Catholic Church might play a role in opposing the entrance of Turkey into the European Union. What does that have to do with Catholicism? Maybe more than I would have thought. I’m interested to read more on this particular topic.

    Looking at who he is, I’m not sure this Pope was the ideal choice for a Catholic interface with the Middle East — whether it be Israel or the Muslim world. I’m not saying he couldn’t have a very positive impact — but I think he would have to work hard to be persuasive and positive in that area.

    It also sounds like many of the liberal Europeans will already despise this man.

    Regardless, I will hope that he will use his position of power and influence to do good in the world. His predecessor had some truly great accomplishments.

  23. As for the Hitler Youth thing, is that important? Elder Uchtdorf’s father was a German customs officer in Austria during WWII or something similar. Anybody know if he was a Nazi?

  24. He’s no Nazi. He was just a cog in the machine. He was 14 when he was forced to join the Hitler Youth movement (which, by the way, Baden-Powell wanted to bring into the international scouting program). He got out of this by going to a Seminary. At about 16 he was was drafted to assist the German army. At 17 he was transfered to Austrian-Hungarian border, and then he deserted.

    I remember a Mr. Show where they had a spoof musical called Jeepers Creepers Superstar. The gospel taught by Jeepers Creepers was something to the effect of, “Be nice to your neighbor, but only if you feel like it, and don’t quote me on that.” This is, I believe, a very effective parody of the content of so much of what passes for religion nowadays. I think that a strong leader with good values in any church helps Mormons.

    For my part, I have a much greater concern that Pope Benedict XVI may continue tradition and take the strictly authoritarian “circle the wagons and cover your ass” approach when it comes to handling crises. Pope John Paul II, for example, appeared to take such an approach when he kept Cardinal Law in charge of the Boston Archdiocese for so long after he had been shown to have knowingly circulated predatory child molesters among unsuspecting congregations. This is the type of weak leadership that makes organized religion really repugnant to the average man on the street.

  25. What it means for Mormons is that they can go back to listening to the radio and not hear constant blather about the pope. Man, I hope something interesting happens in the world soon and we don’t have to listen to this anymore.

    Arturo Toscanini , don’t you have a job or something else to do? You spend hours a day on these LDS blogs.

  26. Kurt, I don’t actually spend a lot of time on blogs. I read and write very quickly (as one can probably deduce from the sheer volume of typographical errors in my comments and the number of incoherent sentences caused by incomplete revisions).

  27. AT: I believe that “circle the wagons and cover your ass” is what we would call a mixed metaphor.

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