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One of the strangest public dramas of recent years was played out after the long-anticipated death of Pope John Paul II. Odd enough to watch as the MSM and the Left, which pretty much loathe everything he stood for and the institution he served, praised him unreservedly, but then we were treated to the bizarre spectacle of them assuring each other that the Church would now have to turn to a more "liberal" pope, who would free the Church of the moral baggage JPII had left behind. And, one thing for sure, no way could Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who's even more conservative, possibly be chosen to succeed him. Certainly the Church would have to seek to popularize its product by picking someone who would loosen doctrine enough to fit in with the postmodernist and relativist intellectual trends of secular Europe and Blue America, right? Well, we all know how that turned out. Perhaps folks who don't believe in Christianity in the first place ought not try to figure out how or why a man becomes Pope?

Michael S. Rose, on the other hand, is a devout Catholic, author of the devastating book, Goodbye, Good Men, about the damage the Church did itself by recruiting gay priests, and web editor of the feisty New Oxford Review. In this brief but immensely useful polemic he outlines the challenges facing the new Pope and explains why Joseph Ratzinger may well have been the ideal man to confront them at this moment in the Church's history. Contrary to the expectations of the punditocracy and liberal Catholics, he suggests that:
If any one point of reference can be taken as an augury of his papacy, it is Pope Benedict's clarion call to resist what he calls "the dictatorship of relativism." [...] He defines this prevailing philosophy as one that "recognizes nothing as definitive and leaves as the ultimate standard one's own personality and desires." In other words, according to the relativist philosophy, people who disagree on moral and social issues can be equally right.
And if the defense of morality does prove unpopular in those segments of the West where gay marriage, abortion, multiculturalism, political correctness and the like are all the rage? Well, this Pope has said that the time may have come for a "mustard seed Church":
The maximization of the number of faithful is not Pope Benedict's strategic objective. In 1995...Cardinal Ratzinger shocked the Catholic world by suggesting that it may need to disregard the notion of a "popular Church" that will be loved by everyone. He once wrote of the eighteenth-century Church, roiled by the Enlightenment, that it was "a Church reduced in size and diminished in social prestige, yet become fruitful from a new interior power, a power that released new formative forces for the individual and for society." Similarly, his governing metaphor for the short-term destiny of Catholicism is the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32), suggesting a much smaller presence but with a faith whose dimensions could move mountains.
Now, it seems at least possible that a Church that adheres to a strict moral vision will be more appealing than one that does not, but, regardless, it can hardly be the role of the Church fathers to trim their beliefs just to truckle to pop culture. That would be a betrayal of faith and of the Church.

In the chapters that follow, Mr. Rose treats topics like the threat from radical Islam, potential damage from a too compromising ecumenism, the culture of death (or the "anti-culture of death" as the new Pope has aptly named it), the crisis of pedophile and gay priests, and reform of Church doctrine, bureaucracy and trappings. By the time he's done it's apparent that the Pope has a pretty full plate in front of him, but there also seems reason to hope that the man who was Ratzinger is up to all these challenges.


Grade: (A)


See also:

Michael Rose Links:

    -BLOG: Papa Ratzi Post (Michael S. Rose)
    -BOOK SITE: Benedict XVI: The Man Who Was Ratzinger by Michael S. Rose (Spence Publishing)
    -ESSAY: The Man Who Was Ratzinger (Michael S. Rose, July/August 2005, New Oxford Review)
    -ESSAY: The Man Who Was Ratzinger (Part II) (Michael S. Rose, September 2005, New Oxford Review)
    -BOOK SITE: Goodbye, Good Men: How Liberals Brought Corruption Into the Catholic Church by Michael S. Rose
    -ESSAY: MEDIA TWISTS PAPAL STATEMENT ON EVOLUTION (Michael S. Rose, Editor, St. Catherine Review)
    -ESSAY: Are gay priests the problem?: Yes, when they're part of the church's gay subculture, the 'Lavender Mafia.' (Michael S. Rose, October 18, 2005, Dallas Morning News)
    -ESSAY: METROSEXUAL GOES AMERICA: Effeminacy in the Service Of Capitalism (Michael S. Rose, July-August 2004, New Oxford Review)
    -ESSAY: A Question of Integrity: Michael Rose and the American College of Louvain (Brian Saint-Paul, Crisis)
    -ESSAY: STRANGELY OUT OF CHARACTER: The Astounding Naivete of Crisis Magazine (Michael S. Rose, December 2002, New Oxford Review)
    -ESSAY: SCHMOOZING JUST DOESN'T CUT IT: The Crisis at Crisis Magazine (Michael S. Rose, June 2003, New Oxford Review)
    -ESSAY: WRESTLER PRIESTS AND LAPDOG EDITORS: Cincinnati's West-Side Story (michael S. Rose, June 2005, New Oxford Review)
    -ESSAY: THE VOCATIONS DROUGHT THAT NEED NOT BE: The Four Marks of a Vocation (Michael S. Rose, November 2003, New Oxford Review)
    -ESSAY: THE CASE OF FR. JAMES HALEY: Killing the Messenger (Michael S. Rose, March 2005, New Oxford Review)
    -ESSAY: The Church and the EU: An unprecedented vote by a commission of the European parliament underscores the growing conflict between extreme secularism and Christianity in Europe. (Michael S. Rose, February 2005, Ignatius Insight)
    -ESSAY: Extravagance, for Whose Glory? (Michael S. Rose, January 12, 2003, Newsday)
    -ESSAY: Mission Aborted: The failed Dutch invasion of Poland (Michael S. Rose, September 8, 2003, The American Conservative)
    -ESSAY: Working For Peace In A Troubled City (Michael S. Rose, June 26, 2002, The Wanderer)
    -ESSAY: Can't Get Out of the Box: They call it a cathedral. It sure doesn't look like one (MICHAEL S. ROSE, September 13, 2002, Opinion Journal)
    -ESSAY: A Gospel in Stone: Notre Dame de Paris and the Three Natural Laws of Church Architecture (Michael S. Rose, May/June 2002, Catholic Answers)
    -ESSAY: Notre Dame: Renovation Redux (Michael S. Rose, October 1999, Adoremus Bulletin)
    -ESSAY: In the Image and Likeness of God: Classical Renaissance: In Italy, the Gothic style never really took hold. In a land built on classical antiquity, Gothic was seen as outlandish, alien, and un-Italian. Consequently, Gothic architecture was increasingly regarded with contempt. In fact, the 15th-century Italian architect Filarete (1400-69) once declared: "A curse on those who thought of such rubbish! Only barbarians can have brought it into Italy." (Michael S. Rose, Nov/Dec. 2002, Lay Witness)
    -ESSAY: Height and Light for the New Jerusalem: Innovative Romanesque elements such as the ambulatory and the masonry vault became more common during the early 12th century, as the emerging Gothic culture left its mark on the refined Romanesque architecture of the day. ( Michael S. Rose, Sept/Oct 2002, Lay Witness)
    -ESSAY: House of Christ the King: Churches of the Early Christian Centuries: The earliest Christian "houses of God" not only established themselves as permanent sacred places, they reflected in many ways the divinely inspired design and construction of Solomon's Temple and its transient precursor, the Tabernacle in the Wilderness (Michael S. Rose, Jan/Feb 2002, Lay Witness)
    -ESSAY: House of God Foundations: The moveable tent-like sanctuary of the Hebrews is the earliest known structure in Judeo culture to establish a sacred place, one that was specifically meant to be a "house of God." In Latin this tent sanctuary is called tabernaculum, meaning "little tent," from which our contemporary word "tabernacle" is derived. Whereas the tabernacles of the Christian churches are designed to hold the presence of God in His Sacrament of the Eucharist, Israel's tabernacle in the wilderness housed the presence of God in a different way. (Michael S. Rose, Nov/Dec 2001, Lay Witness)
    -ESSAY: Did Sacrosanctum Concilium Promote the Reform of Church Architecture? (Michael S. Rose, September/October 2000, Catholic Dossier)
    -ESSAY: Rome Hits the Brakes: Responding to a complaint by lay Catholics, the Vatican asks an American archbishop to suspend renovations of his cathedral. (Michael S. Rose, Sep. 27, 2001, Catholic World News)
    -ARCHIVES: Michael S. Rose (Crux News)
    -ARCHIVES: Michael S. Rose (Diocese Report)
    -ARCHIVES: "michael s. rose" (Catholic Education Resource)
    -ARCHIVES: "michael s. rose" (First Things)
    -ARCHIVES: "michael s. rose" (Brothers Judd Blog)
    -ARCHIVES: "michael s. rose" (Find Articles)
    -ESSAY: DID HE STEP ON THOSE BLUE SUEDE SHOES?: Why Are They Going After Michael Rose? (Jay McNally, December 2002, New Oxford Review)
    -ESSAY: Killing Michael Rose (New Oxford Review, September 2002)
    -ESSAY: Anti-Catholic 'Experts' Fuel Church's Scandals (Phil Brennan, April 4, 2002,
    -ESSAY: WWW.LIBEL.COM: Bloggers beware (Rod Dreher, 9/16/02, National Review)
    -REVIEW: of Goodbye! Good Men: How Catholic Seminaries Turned Away Two Generations of Vocations From the Priesthood by Michael S. Rose (Mary Jo Anderson, Crisis)
    -REVIEW: of Goodbye, Good Men (Ralph McInerney, Crisis)
    -REVIEW: of Goodbye, Good Men (Jim Fritz, The Defender)
    -REVIEW: of Goodbye, Good Men (Robert J. Johansen, M.A., Culture Wars)
    -REVIEW: of Goodbye, Good Men (Kenneth Baker, S.J., Homiletic & Pastoral Review)
    -REVIEW: of Goodbye, Good Men (Rev. Fr Clement Mary, C.SS.R., The Catholic)
    -REVIEW: of Goodbye, Good Men (John S. Webster, AD 2000)
    -REVIEW: of Goodbye, Good Men (Maria T. Gaetano, Catholic Herald)
    -REVIEW: of Goodbye, Good Men (Garry Wills, NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Goodbye, Good Men (Geraldine Hawkins, Mass News)
    -REVIEW: of Goodbye, Good Men (NewsMax)
    -REVIEW: of Goodbye, Good Men (Chris Weinkopf,
    -REVIEW: of Goodbye, Good Men (Peggy Whitcomb, Oregon Magazine)
    -REVIEW: of Goodbye, Good Men (UWE SIEMON-NETTO, UPI)
    -REVIEW: of Goodbye, Good Men (Rod Dreher, National Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Renovation Manipulation: The Church Counter-Renovation Handbook by Michael S. Rose (Christopher Carstens, Sacred Architecture Journal)
    -REVIEW: of Ugly as Sin: Why They Changed Our Churches from Sacred Places to Meeting Spaces-and How We Can Change Them Back Again by Michael S. Rose (Michael Morris, Crisis)
    -REVIEW: of Ugly as Sin (Moyra Doorly, The Catholic)
    -REVIEW: of Ugly as Sin (Gretchen T. Buggeln, The Christian Century)
    -REVIEW: of Ugly as Sin (Catesby Leigh, Touchstone)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: God's Houses (Alison Lurie, NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Priest: Portraits of Ten Good Men Serving the Church Today by Michael S. Rose (Karl Maurer, Catholic Citizens)
    -REVIEW: of Priest (MICHAEL F. FLACH, Catholic Herald)

Book-related and General Links:

    -ARCHIVES: Pope Benedict XVI (Brothers Judd Blog)
    -ARCHIVES: Pope John Paul II (Brothers Judd Blog)
    -ESSAY: Disputed Questions. A Catholic Philosopher Argues for Relativism: It's Dario Antiseri. He explains his theses in the official magazine of the Catholic University of Milan. And he is criticizing, at bottom, Benedict XVI's positions on relativism, nihilism, and the natural law (Sandro Magister, 11/03/05, Chiesa)
    -ESSAY: ‘Evangelical Pruning’ Ahead? (Inside Higher Ed, 11/03/05)
    -ESSAY: How the Zeitgeist Affected the Catholic Church in the U.S. After Vatican II (Matt Abbott, 12/3/2004, Washington Times)
    -ARTICLE: Vatican to Begin U.S. Seminary Investigation: The problem of accepting homosexuals into the priesthood has become so common that it is now widely and openly considered a "gay profession." (, 8/24/05)
    -ESSAY: Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse (Timothy J. Dailey, Ph.D., Family Research Council)
    -ESSAY: The Elephant in the Sacristy : Beneath the scandals now consuming the Catholic church is a cluster of facts too enormous to ignore. (Mary Eberstadt, 06/17/2002, Weekly Standard)