Just five years ago, compassionate conservatism was considered a serious political philosophy. But one doesn't hear much about it anymore. Perhaps it was just a campaign jingle. But one who does take it seriously is John J. Dilulio Jr., the first Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, the key expression of compassionate conservatism under President George W. Bush.
Dilulio, writing in The Philadelphia Inquirer (April 21), says John Paul the Great was a "great pastor," a "charismatic spiritual being," and "even many who disagreed strongly with Pope John Paul II respected, liked, or loved him."
Dilulio, a Catholic, says that "The Roman Catholic Church is growing by leaps and bounds in Africa and other places.... Catholics in the United States and Europe are far more divided on moral and social issues, and generally far less open to theological orthodoxy.... Still, the divisions in America and Europe matter greatly, if only because those Catholics are, on the whole, wealthier...." Dilulio calls for Benedict to "unify Catholics." So does money trump orthodoxy?
Dilulio says Benedict could be a "great pope" if he takes "concrete actions" and makes "symbolic gestures." What would these be?
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