Hard cheese for the Inquisition
So Cardinal Ratzinger is unhappy...God, by which he means organized religion, has been relegated to the margins of secular society. In Europe.
Can I say how sympathetic I am not?
Just in case we have forgotten, the Vatican department Ratzinger heads up used to be the Inquisition, and used to be able to have the state burn books and people for it. Personally, he is almost certainly responsible for bullying Pope Paul into taking an absolutist position on contraception at a point when it seemed likely that the Church would see sense. Ratzinger's line on this was only secondarily to do with sexual morals, any more than his absolutist position on abortion is; he believes that the Church can only do good in the world, and the Pope can only be seen as god's representative on earth, if it and he change their position as rarely as possible. Infallibility is a two-way street - people have to believe you are, and you have to act as if you are.
Ratzinger's role in perpetuating Church doctrine on contraception means that he is directly responsible for more deaths than any Grand Inquisitor ever managed. He is not solely responsible, for those deaths, and the Church's attempts to get international justice and debt forgiveness and medical help for people with HIV count in mitigation. Nonetheless, I would not want to live with his conscience, whether it haunts him at night or is merely defective enough that it doesn't.
Recently, he indicated, presumably on behalf of the current Pope, that the European Union should be restricted to Christian nations, or at least to nominally Christian ones, and that Turkey should never be admitted. Which means, I guess, that religion is only to be central if it is the right one - he is big buds with Buttiglione, who, apart from the views on single mothers and homosexuality that lost him his Commissionership, also believes that non-Christian, and indeed non-Catholic, immigrants should be discouraged as being more likely to commit crime.
Presumably part of his complaint is that many societies, formerly run by clerical fascists, are opting for equality in matters of gender and sexuality, and punishing those clerics who abused children sexually and violently for decades. As someone mercilessly flogged as a child by psychotics in black robes for having a bad attitide, I suppose I should declare an interest here...If the price of that stopping is a certan amount of consumerist materialism, that is a phase out of which I hope society will grow.
As far as I am concerned, religion needs to be relegated far more to the margins than it is, for precisely as long as it bases its claims on completely irrational superstitions that have very little to do with the teachings of its supposed founders. Christ never expressed a view on homosexual marriage, nor did Mohammed lay down any requirement that women wrap themselves in yards of fabric to go to the shops. If the churches and mosques and temples and synagogues want a role in secular society, it should be in preaching the virtues of justice, mercy, compassion and love that their founders regarded as central, not in hate-mongering and whinging.