I'm not Catholic, but I'd like to make two points about the Catholic Church today, one possibly more serious than the other....you decide.
First, I think it's interesting that the Cardinals selected an outspoken conservative like Joseph Ratzinger. I think this was a clear message to "liberal" Catholics, especially Americans, that if they are wondering about female bishops, married priests, allowing condoms, etc., the answer is "forget about it". (Or however you say that in German.)
I've always thought it a bit ego-centric for American Catholics to suggest that the Church should change rules like that which relate to the fundamental beliefs of the organization. One doesn't expect an organization that is on their 265th pope, is more than a millenium and a half old, and has 2 billion members to change the rules because a few new members think it's a nice idea or even in the interest of "fairness". If you don't like the rules, quit. But don't think they should suddenly rewrite the rulebook for you.
Second, I've noticed that whenever a pope dies, the next one is chosen by the Cardinals. Just to use an analogy which is closer to home, I know that New Orleans would love to host the Superbowl every year, but other cities have to have an opportunity so the venue changes annually. So, why is it always the Cardinals who choose the pope? Why can't the Giants have a try, or the Red Sox? Shouldn't winning the World Series have its privileges, especially from such a Catholic city?
[By the way, I have it on very good information from a Catholic friend that despite the vows of secrecy taken for the process it is actually the Arizona Cardinals and not, as is generally believed, the St. Louis Cardinals who are locked in the Sistine Chapel. Like most people, given the Catholic nature of the name Saint Louis, I just assumed....]
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