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What Does the Pope Know About World Affairs?

In The American Conservative (Aug. 29), Daniel McCarthy has an article titled “Bush vs. Benedict.” Says he: “And like John Paul II, the new pope [Benedict XVI] is a man of peace whose vision for the world does not include wars of the sort lately waged against Iraq. The priority Benedict places on peace was apparent even in his choice of name.” McCarthy quotes Benedict: “I chose to call myself Benedict XVI ideally as a link to the venerated pontiff Benedict XV, who guided the Church through the turbulent times of the First World War. He was a true and courageous prophet of peace who struggled strenuously and bravely, first to avoid the drama of war and then to limit its terrible consequences. In his footsteps I place my ministry….”

McCarthy continues: “The new pope would be a sure ally for the Right in the Culture War. But where hot wars are concerned, many of Ratzinger’s most ardent admirers — Catholic neoconservatives especially — find themselves diametrically at odds with the pope.”

McCarthy mentions the usual suspects: Michael Novak, George Weigel, Richard John Neuhaus. For them, when it comes to U.S. foreign policy, says McCarthy, “it is Bush sí, Benedict no.

McCarthy quotes then-Cardinal Ratzinger: “The pope [John Paul II] expressed his thought with great clarity [on the invasion of Iraq], not only as his individual thought but as the thought of a man who is knowledgeable in the highest functions of the Catholic Church…. The Holy Father’s judgment is also convincing from a rational point of view: There was not sufficient reason to unleash a war in Iraq.”

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