Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Irony watch 

Only few hours have passed since the elevation of Cardinal Ratzinger to the Throne of St Peter and already the commentariat is buzzing with talk about a "missed opportunity" to elect a representative of the developing world (most likely a Latin American) who would have a better understanding and better outreach to the world's poor. Conservative German apparently simply won't do.

Pope John Paul II was, of course, a conservative Pole, but that did not prevent him from being wildly popular among the world's Catholics, particularly those outside the First World. Yes, the Pope's undoubted charisma obviously must have had something to do with, but what too many Western observers, forever locked in their own progressive echo-chamber, tend to forget is that the Catholic population of the developing world tends to be significantly more orthodox in terms of their theology and observance and significantly more socially conservative than their fellow Catholics in Europe or North America. While the commentators all too often tend to reduce the religion to a matter of "helping the poor", the poor themselves look to their faith for the promise of the next life rather than a change in this one.


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