Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Benedict XVI and style

The limited news reports about the Pope's visit to Germany and World Youth Day - seem to to have missed a lot. Almost all of the coverage seems to have compared his style to JPII. The journalists seemed almost surpised that he is different, not the same kind of media star. That was evident in the way he spoke to the 1,000,000+ people at the mass. But what struck me was the way his remarks keyed on important issues that we all face.

Two comments were particularly cogent for me. The first on freedom - where he recognized the key difference between freedom and license - ``Freedom is not simply about enjoying life in total autonomy, but rather about living by a measure of truth and goodness,'' he said. ``This takes place so that we ourselves can truly become true and good.'' Madison and Adam Smith drew those same kinds of boundaries in their writings.

The second related to fashion in religion - a lot of what passes for theology today is comfortable. One passage raised some questions about the explosion of new religious attitudes/beliefs - "I have no wish to discredit all the manifestations of this phenomenon. There may be sincere joy in the discovery," he said. "Yet, if it is pushed too far, religion becomes almost a consumer product. People choose what they like, and some are even able to make a profit from it." Ultimately religious belief like freedom involves obligations.

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