I'm not Roman Catholic, so my views on the election of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI don't much matter, but I do want to make one simple point about the likely American reaction based on Ratzinger's reputation as a "conservative."
Like much of the non-American hierarchy these days, the new pope's orthdox views on cultural and theological controversies appear to be completely integrated with an anti-capitalist and not-so-secret anti-American attitude on global economic issues. Here's how The New York Times' Laurie Goodstein and Ian Fisher put it in Sunday's profile of the German cardinal:
Based on Cardinal Ratzinger's record and pronouncements, his agenda seems clear. Inside the church, he would like to impose more doctrinal discipline, reining in priests who experiment with liturgy or seminaries that permit a broad interpretation of doctrine. Outside, he would like the church to assert itself more forcefully against the trend he sees as most threatening: globalization leading eventually to global secularization.
Ratzinger, by all accounts a brilliant theologian, is a systematic thinker, so I don't think we are going to hear just one side of the equation he draws between economic globaliation and "the dictatorship of relativism." Assuming he doesn't intend to just be a caretaker pope (a very safe assumption), all those American conservatives, Catholic or not, who are high-fiving each other right now over the election of a "conservative pope" may be eating their words before long.
Over at National Review's The Corner, Kathryn Lopez says: "CHAMPAGNE IS FLOWING." You'd best keep the bubbly on ice for a while, KLo. --