NYT Sunday Mag swings and misses

As a Catholic, I viewed the Easter Sunday cover story on Pope Benedict XVI in this week's New York Times Sunday Magazine, with some trepidation. Russell Shorto's article Keeping the Faith, while not the hatchet job I had feared, did display the tin ear I have come to expect whenever the New York Times attempts to address the subject of Catholicism and the Pope.    

Shorto opines that because this Pope has spent his life reinforcing the authority of the Church on doctrinal matters, he will not be able to help the Catholic Church meet the spiritual hunger that Shorto has found to exists in today's Europe, a hunger that Shorto says centers around the need for personal fellowship and which is best met by lay-based movements that thrive in the absence of both authority and dogma. Mr. Short thus considers it "curious" that

Benedict's Wednesday prayers in St. Peter's Square routinely attract many more people than did those of the wildly popular John Paul II - this despite the fact that Benedict's style is more professorial than theatrical.
I do not find Pope Benedict XVI's underreported appeal so mystifying. Perhaps those matters of doctrinal integrity that post modern secularists find boring and irrelevant are, in fact,  the vital force that feeds the need people have to belong to something far bigger than themselves. Something which belongs to the ages. 

Shorto finds the condition of the Catholic Church in Europe under this supposedly dogmatic Pope weak. But if that is his version of weakness, the case can be made that those once-thriving Christian denominations that have abandoned dogma and embraced varieties of Christianity Lite based solely on fellowship and good will, are on life support. 


As for the varying styles, while Pope John Paul II vastly expanded the influence of the papacy and was a deeply holy man, his theatrical style and the celebrity status it awarded him could at times drown out his message.  With Pope Benedict XVI the message of a divine Christ's deep love for mankind remains in the forefront. 

In both Europe and America there are many Catholics who abandoned the authority of the Church in which they had been raised in favor of either those more personal forms of spiritualism that were often only a fancy cover stories for the pursuit of rampant narcissism, or for outright professed non-belief.  The current Pope's scholarly style calls these people -and their children -back to their roots in the Church a way Shorto simply does not understand.  

Another lapsed Catholic who found his way home to the Church after many years' absence once put it thus:
 

They may fail it, but it never fails them.  When the score is against them, or they get a bum pitch, that unfailing Something inside will be there to draw on.  George Herman "Babe" Ruth




As a Catholic, I viewed the Easter Sunday cover story on Pope Benedict XVI in this week's New York Times Sunday Magazine, with some trepidation. Russell Shorto's article Keeping the Faith, while not the hatchet job I had feared, did display the tin ear I have come to expect whenever the New York Times attempts to address the subject of Catholicism and the Pope.    

Shorto opines that because this Pope has spent his life reinforcing the authority of the Church on doctrinal matters, he will not be able to help the Catholic Church meet the spiritual hunger that Shorto has found to exists in today's Europe, a hunger that Shorto says centers around the need for personal fellowship and which is best met by lay-based movements that thrive in the absence of both authority and dogma. Mr. Short thus considers it "curious" that

Benedict's Wednesday prayers in St. Peter's Square routinely attract many more people than did those of the wildly popular John Paul II - this despite the fact that Benedict's style is more professorial than theatrical.
I do not find Pope Benedict XVI's underreported appeal so mystifying. Perhaps those matters of doctrinal integrity that post modern secularists find boring and irrelevant are, in fact,  the vital force that feeds the need people have to belong to something far bigger than themselves. Something which belongs to the ages. 

Shorto finds the condition of the Catholic Church in Europe under this supposedly dogmatic Pope weak. But if that is his version of weakness, the case can be made that those once-thriving Christian denominations that have abandoned dogma and embraced varieties of Christianity Lite based solely on fellowship and good will, are on life support. 


As for the varying styles, while Pope John Paul II vastly expanded the influence of the papacy and was a deeply holy man, his theatrical style and the celebrity status it awarded him could at times drown out his message.  With Pope Benedict XVI the message of a divine Christ's deep love for mankind remains in the forefront. 

In both Europe and America there are many Catholics who abandoned the authority of the Church in which they had been raised in favor of either those more personal forms of spiritualism that were often only a fancy cover stories for the pursuit of rampant narcissism, or for outright professed non-belief.  The current Pope's scholarly style calls these people -and their children -back to their roots in the Church a way Shorto simply does not understand.  

Another lapsed Catholic who found his way home to the Church after many years' absence once put it thus:
 

They may fail it, but it never fails them.  When the score is against them, or they get a bum pitch, that unfailing Something inside will be there to draw on.  George Herman "Babe" Ruth