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Does Benedict XVI agree with Ratzinger?

Reader comment on item: A Key Change to "The Pope and the Koran"

Submitted by Tom McLaughlin (United States), Jan 30, 2006 at 09:13

"Sharia shapes society from beginning to end. In this sense, it can exploit such partial freedoms as our constitution gives, ..." writes Ratzinger. What does he mean by "our constitution,"? Is he referring to the US Constitution? Does Germany have a constitution? The Catholic Church doesn't have one, I don't believe. The EU didn't have one when he wrote that, I don't think. There is little tradition in Islam for "separation of Church and state," or "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's," as there has always been in Christianity, except in Turkey. There's a model that might be expanded upon. Is there any such thing in the new Iraq Constitution?

Most of Ratzinger's comments above I agree with. Even here in post September 11th America, I have few objections to his comparison of Islam with Christianity and I'm glad he was elected pope. That he was indeed elected is evidence that even the authoritarian Catholic Church has some democratic principles. Democracy has a place in the church and the church has a place in a democratic country.

Ratzinger says that there is no central authority in Islam to deal with, but there's little uniformity in the Christian Church either. The Roman Catholic Church is the single biggest denomination, but there are other denominations which differ markedly from it and from each other. In Crusader times, the Catholic Church was western civilization and commanded legions. Now there's a profound separation but the Church is not without power. What Soviet leader was it who asked, "How many legions does the pope have?" As the USSR discovered too late, there are other ways for a pope to exercise power. I hope Benedict is as effective as John Paul was when he uses it. This writing indicates that he at least has a vision.

There are implications in Ratzinger's remarks for Bush's long-range Middle East policy of establishing democracy in the region as a bulwark against radical Islam. Will there be more elections like the one last week in Palestine? Will a Shiite-dominated government in Iraq follow their coreligionists in Iran? These are real concerns.

Also, our dependence on Middle East oil fortifies resurgent Radical Islam with infusions of petrodollars. Ratzinger is describing a very real problem. Though I believe in free trade and laissez faire economics, our dependence on oil is a national security issue now. Perhaps Bush should steer the US toward other technologies like hydrogen and whatever else. I hope there's some seriousl talk in Washington about this. It would be easier for a Republican (like Nixon in China) to lead this than for a Democrat administration (perish the thought) to do so after 2008.

Ratzinger appears to be someone the Bush administraton can deal with the way Reagan dealt with John Paul. Now that he's Benedict XVI, will he think the way he did as Ratzinger?
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