The Left Lobbies for a Liberal Successor to Benedict

To the dictators of relativism and their allies in the chattering class, the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI is seen as an occasion for celebration and a chance to lobby the Church for a liberal successor. The mischief is already underway, as seen in such headlines as: “New Pope should not condemn contraception, says cardinal.”

The Church’s enemies, both within and without her walls, see an opportunity to capitalize on Benedict’s resignation, and the media, as always, stands ready to help. The coverage so far of the resignation has been grotesquely biased. ABC News wins the prize for the most ludicrously unfair post-resignation story: “Pope Benedict Dogged By Hitler Youth Past, Despite Jewish Support.”

Other media outlets have been only slightly less subtle in their distaste for Benedict’s pontificate. They considered it newsworthy to report that he didn’t “change” Church teaching, as if that fell within the range of plausible choices before him.

That the Church persists in naming believing Catholics to the chair of St. Peter is somehow “controversial” in the eyes of the media. “Benedict’s eight-year reign will be appraised intensively and, I expect, unkindly. He will be described as a diehard traditionalist, a reactionary in a time of revolutionary yearnings,” wrote Bill Keller, the former executive editor of the New York Times.  (Author Thomas Cahill, after John Paul II’s death, took a similar line in the pages of the Times, writing that historians may conclude that his conservatism “destroyed” the Church.)

Such judgments on Benedict’s pontificate are wholly predictable, given the hostility with which the media greeted his elevation and its equation of liberalism with “reform.” Leading newspapers billed Benedict at the time of his election as “God’s Rottweiler” (though later they would cast him as a lap dog during the abuse scandal). He “never had a chance” with the media, as an executive at Fox News put it.

But Benedict was never as rigid as the media claimed. If anything, he approached non-doctrinal matters with great flexibility, a style that explains his willingness to buck 600 years of history and resign from office. That’s quite a departure from tradition for the “diehard traditionalist” of Keller’s fevered imagination.

The media’s obsessional interest in the papacy is a tacit acknowledgment of its power. Journalists may claim the papacy has “weakened” under Benedict, but the very fact that they cover it with such intensity belies that description. What the media treats as the papacy’s greatest weakness—adherence to orthodoxy—is in fact the source of its prestige.

The media’s frenetic lobbying for a “more progressive” successor to Benedict, as the Washington Post editorialized, is also a measure of the papacy’s enduring power and influence. Why should liberals care so much about the direction of a religion to which they don’t belong? The answer is that they envy its immense power and wish to harness that power for their own ideological purposes. Out of this envy they pose as “reformers” who know what is best for the Church. Yet their unsolicited advice, if taken, would only  weaken her.

They regard the papacy as a relic of “absolutism” and the last great obstacle to the triumph of their ideology.  Consequently, they expend great energy in trying to neutralize or co-opt it. A liberal pope, in their eyes, would be an even greater propaganda coup than a liberal president. They think that if they could somehow cow the Church into naming a “progressive” to bless their various revolutions—from socialism to same-sex marriage—those revolutions would spread everywhere.

In the past, the Church’s enemies sought to eliminate the power of the papacy by force, even to the point of throwing popes in prison. And a few of her modern enemies harbor the same thoughts, as Pope Benedict found out. “Arrest the Pope? I rather think we should,” ran a headline on a column in the British press in 2010. “Put the Pope in the Dock,” read another headline. United Nations jurist Geoffrey Robertson, joined by atheists Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, wanted Pope Benedict prosecuted for “crimes against humanity.”

But since imprisoning popes is unrealistic the Church’s enemies seek to control the papacy through alternative means. Through the manipulation of  popular opinion and media pressure, they clamor for a liberal pope who will confirm the world in all its errors and surrender the Church’s institutions to the dictatorship of relativism.

The faithful, however, can take solace in the promise of Jesus Christ that that day will never come. The gates of Hell may clank against the Church, but they will never crush her.

Editor’s note: We are pleased to welcome George Neumayr as a weekly contributor to Crisis Magazine and anticipate that his timely columns will keep the conversation lively, as do the writings of our other fine contributors.

George Neumayr


George Neumayr is a contributing editor to The American Spectator, and a weekly columnist for Crisis Magazine. He is also co-author (with Phyllis Schlafly) of No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.

  • John200

    Glad to see Mr. Neumayr as a regular at CrisisMag.

    But just exactly who would go to ABC for comment on Benedict? …to Bill Keller, the former executive editor of the New York Times — as a commentator on Benedict???

    Thomas Cahill absurdly informs us that John Paul II’s conservatism destroyed the Catholic Church. Why take seriously his word on JP II???

    On to Geoffrey Robertson; argument by ambush. Richard Dawkins; master of misdirection in disputation. The late Christopher Hitchens; I loved his portrayal of a glib, sniggering schoolboy, run out of arguments for his juvenile atheism and cornered at the end.

    Save the space and ink. Shorten the article if you have to or, better, substitute your own thinking for that of the weaklings. They have no standing whatsoever to comment on a believing, practicing Catholic.

    Oops, I hope you were not planning to expand this into a series of articles. If so, delete my comment. And seriously, I am glad Mr. N. is here. I learn something from him every time.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    It is worth noting that Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor’s remarks were far more nuanced than is suggested by the headline ““New Pope should not condemn contraception, says cardinal.”

    He simply called for an emphasis on “what’s good and what’s true” about marriage and family life instead. “I think that the Church would be wise actually to focus on that in her teaching, rather than saying ‘we condemn this, we condemn that, or the other’. No – focus on what’s good and what’s true.”

    This is very much what JPII did in his Theology of the Body and is scarcely controversial.

  • Dawn

    I can’t believe that Obama got reelected as president. He’s so invincible, I’m afraid the way things are going he may get elected Pope.

    • jacobhalo

      Obama was reelected because of media bias. If the mainstream media were fair, Obama would have lost. According to the media, he could do no wrong. Secondly, 50% of Catholics voted for Obama, which means that they agreed with his attacks on the Catholic church, concerning abortion, gaye marriage, contraception, loss of religious liberties, etc. Jesus said, if you are not with me, you are against me.

      • Unfortunately, I suspect that Obama was re-elected because the majority of American voters support him and his policies. Is he any different than the political leaders in Europe? Abortion on demand and marriage mockery are the new keystones of the west. We weathered the pagan emperors and the barbarian hordes, now we’ll have to survive the cultural-Marxists.Having read the last page of the New Testament, I’m confident we’ll come out on top.

  • lifeknight

    Agreeing with Mr. Neumayr that the media will always have deep criticisms of the Papacy. It is the old “Thou dost protest too much.”
    It is much worse in this world to be ignored, and as someone once said, “You can tell much more about a person by who his enemies are than by who he welcomes as friends.”

  • MRzeppa

    Well said good and faithful servant.

  • NormChouinard

    The MSM will get it wrong. We all understand that. For the Cardinals, nothing should be further from their mind than the innaccuracies of the media, whether MSNBC or Fox News.

  • Ford Oxaal

    The mainstream media is going extinct, and good riddance — they have overstayed their welcome — and in fact are not welcome in our home except as an object of ridicule, and an example of farcical levels of bias and ignorance. I like to accelerate their demise in my own curmudgeonly way (I am getting ever older). Whenever I go into a public area and they are blasting the mainstream media, I make them turn it off. I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

    • JTLiuzza

      Good for you, Ford. More of us need to publicly stick a finger in the eye of the leftist dullards in the disinformation business.

    • Bob

      my Lenten sacrifice: I gave up watching television, except for EWTN. No more CNN, MSNBC, ABC. Instead I pick up the Catechism, the rosary, or some spiritual writing instead. Think about it: if people stopped watching MSNBC advertiser money would dry up, MSNBC would shut down.

      • Carpe_Jvgvlvm

        Do people *watch* MSNBC? LOL, I thought only “neo-cons” who liked to make fun of those heart-attack-in-the-making “journalists” watched, with popcorn, to get a good laugh.

  • These people unwittingly reveal their delight in power and egotism. It doesn’t occur to them that the faithful Catholic is bound by the faith and must serve it, not let it serve him. They secretly want a Pope who will wrest the church to his will — the clericalism of the secular on brave display. Dante excoriated men who he thought had used the papacy for gaining temporal power. He believed they were simonists. Now all our simonists are secular (!).

  • I ask the Liberals who would Jesus pick? I suggest the Cardinals ask the same question. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. I trust God will choose the right Pope and guide the conclave as he did for the last two Popes. We either live by the flesh or the spirt one leads to Hell and the other to Heaven, I encourage the liberals to think with their reason instead of their wants.

    • Alecto

      Well, Jesus ain’t here to pick a pope. Peter Piper doesn’t pick a pope. Cardinals pick a pope. Hopefully, they pick a pope guided by the Holy Spirit. Despite my totally cynical view of Catholic hierarchy, I pray for those fustilarians.

  • Michael

    “As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end,….”. The truth never changes, and that is what the Pope and the rest of the clergy should always promote and protect. Thats what Benedict did so well and what the secular world is afraid of. They want the truth to bend to the current tide of moral decline. Does a good doctor doesnt downplay a diagnosis and treatment just to make the patient feel better about themselves? Does a good teacher tell a student its ok to think 2+2=5 because it makes that student feel better about themselves to think 5 is a good enough answer?

  • Clement_W

    Let us face it – The Human species is still in the morning of the 6th. day of creation and the only way to evolve to the Homo sapiens is through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection through our acceptance of the Holy Spirit – that Jesus Christ promised and delivered that day of the First Pentecost when the scared disciples were in the upper room with the doors and windows barred. The Holy Spirit did come with a sound of the roaring wind and tongues of flame over each of them bearing the 7 gifts, the first of which is Wisdom – the Sapiens – in our advancement to the noon of the 6th. day of creation.

    Is it unthinkable that some or many of us are fascinated by looking at our reflection in a pool of water and being so fascinated by our image and making faces and realizing that it is the I (Ego) that is making faces and therefore the I am – a la Descartes? Imagine what the first Homo erectus thought of himself/herself when he/she stooped at a pool for a drink of water from a pool and saw themselves for the very first time!

    The mainstream media seem to be at the stage of Homo neanderthalensis – being able to see only themselves in everyone else who walks on two legs and calling everyone they see must be Neanderthals like themselves.

  • hombre111

    The Left has learned not to hold its breath. The Church is by its nature, conservative. As a liberal, I think it should be. But there need to be liberal moments when a door is opened that cannot be closed. The Vatican Council was such a moment, even though J2P2 and Pope Benedict did everything they could to bring the Holy Spirit it heel. A pope’s renouncing the office is another. Unlike Pope John Paul, who could not and would not give up an office he could no longer hold effectively, Pope Benedict has set a precedent.

  • crakpot

    I think it is not the Church’s “power” they envy. Stalin said it best: “How many divisions does the Pope have? Rather, it is the truth, the voice of conscience, which might just get through to their followers, that they fear. Make the Pope “change his mind,” and people will no longer believe the Church speaks any enduring truth at all.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      Napoléon was nearer the mark when he instructed Cacault, his minister plenipotentiary to the Holy See, to “treat the pope as if he had 200,000 men.” The result was the Concordat of 1801.

  • John

    Bravo, George Neumayr. I am praying for God’s guidance in providing us with a strong, faithful shepherd. May we all pray for that.

  • theorist

    If members of the media think that JPII was too conservative, then just wait until they discover the SSPX.

  • Keith Parkinson

    What fluff. This article is basically the script for a pep talk to a middle schooler who gets teased at school. On the Lifetime channel. Begin with clever nicknames of the bad guys

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  • Well benedict was a member of hitler youth and his family were nazis. He also tried to canonize escriva, who was a Spanish falangist and unapologetic hitler supporter. He rallied the most extreme and hate filled elements of the Catholic Church. And supported the neo fascist Opus Dei. Need I say more?

    • John200

      It would be useful for you to say, “Goodbye” to us and “hello” to RCIA, where you might learn something of the faith and the Pope you so ignorantly…

      …you can see the rest, can’t you. Adieu.

  • Benedict’s legacy – better to die of aids than use contraception.

  • tjo

    The Left fears the Papacy as the winter ice fears the spring.

  • Robert

    Technology seems to pose a challenge to the church and has unleashed a militant atheism.

    • Bono95

      Technology in and of itself is morally indifferent. It can be used for good and for evil. Unfortunately, it does indeed look like the militant atheists are better at using/exploiting technology for their godless purposes than Christians are for God-fearing purposes, but there have been vicious atheists around long before there were computers, cell phones, TVS, etc., and this new wave of techno-atheism could well be countered in part by a wave of techno-Catholicism.

    • djpala

      Correct, Communism & the Masons !

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    I will be preaching tomorrow on the temptation of Christ by Satan for power. I will cast Benedict’s resignation as a humble man’s appreciation of the fact that power is not what Obama means by power but what Christ meant by power – service for OTHERS’ sake.

  • J. Iliff

    The secular (and especially the leftist religious) media clearly don’t want a believing Catholic on the throne of St. Peter.

    Rather, they drool at the thought of the papal office filled by a malleable modernist – an “Episcopalian catholic” if you will.

  • John O’Neill

    That the American media and the American culture are antagonistic to the traditional teaching of Roman Catholicism is no surprise. It was not that long ago that the predecessors of these people running the media were burning down Catholic churces in their big cities. Americanism is a heresy as defined by Pius X; it is a belief that all of life is based on material possessions and that humans are absolute creators of the world and its universe. American catholic heretics insist on teaching that salvation lies in obtaining a degree from an atheistic university, some of them still call themselves “Catholic” and an undying support for the materialistic American political culture mostly in the form of the democrat party. The next pope will be Catholic; no doubt about it. Jesus promised us that the “gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church” and we must say Amen to that.

  • midlc

    The day the Pope supports contraception and abortion is the day I leave the Catholic Church. Such a day will be the saddest day in history (in my humble opinion).

    • John200

      I would like to point out that that will be the day the Pope, too, leaves the Catholic Church.

      • midlc and John200, why would you think that it would even be *possible* for any future Pope to support contraception and abortion? The Pope cannot publicly teach heresy in his office as Pope. He is protected from doing so by the Holy Spirit. That is what the infallibility of the Pope means. It doesn’t mean that Popes will always, personally, be holy men themselves (as the Borgia Popes show!), but it is an article of Catholic faith that Popes cannot publicly teach against *definitive* Catholic teachings. Since the earliest years of the Church, contraception and abortion have both been condemned. No future Pope can “reverse” these teachings.

        • John200

          I’ll let midlc speak for himself, but he does not seem to think the Pope will ever come to support contraception and abortion. Neither do I. Nor do I think the Pope is going to leave the Church.

          Read the comments twice before responding?

  • Jim

    There is no left or right, liberal or conservative, component of the Catholic Church, only dissent and assent. To employ lobbying by the church’s princes is to demonstrate dissent within the ranks.

    • Chris_Topher

      Well said Jim… only fidelity or infidelity… no such thing as a liberal Catholic…

      • vanzetti

        We have infidelity of about 50% of Catholics who voted for Obama. We are supposed to be Christians first, and Americans second.

        • musicacre

          That sad mistake of Catholics is going to have repercussions for years to come. It could be the undoing of United States.

  • Kevin H

    These media savants should stop gazing at their navels long enough to ask why the Catholic Church is still around after 2000 years when so many kingdoms and ideologies have come and gone. It is precisely the commitment to truth as revealed by a God who really is there that has prevented the Church from embracing tastes, fashions and conventional wisdoms that would have rendered it outdated and irrelevant a thousand times over.

    Those who fancy themselves intellectual and sophisticated have been predicting the Church’s demise for 2000 years and have been wrong just as long. The more things change..

  • Ever from the beginning of Holy Mother Church, her enemies have proclaimed her impending demise. They are ALWAYS disappointed, even if one of their own fellow heretics is elected, they find to their dismay that he cannot teach heresy like they desire him to do. I hear that happened to some ancient queen who managed to get her heretical man picked. I wish I could remember the names.
    The Holy Spirit will never allow the Church to fail. Unfortunately, there have arisen false popes in the past which caused much harm. That may indeed come to pass in this delicate and evil time.

    • djpala

      Correct, through Communism & the Masons !

  • Why not Obama for Pope, he didn’t do anything to earn a Nobel Peace Prize so qualifications are irrelevant, and he got the Catholic vote even though he favors abortion, just saying…

  • Dmikem

    The Holy Spirit is not a liberal.

  • Robert

    Of course they’ll want a left wing successor. Someone who doesn’t follow or even know the teachings of the church and someone who is a left wing activist. That’s what they always want.

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  • ed

    who are the liberal cardinals? does anyone knows?

    • Bono95

      I don’t know any liberal cardinals by name, but any who support abortion, contraception, gay marriage, divorce, or people and institutions that are openly anti-Catholic/anti-Christian = liberal

    • djpala

      Mahony, Wuerl, George just to name a few !

  • fundy54

    The teachings of the Church include all the teachings, including what Pope Benedict said supporting gun control to save human life or the need for more regulation of capitalism, which hurts so many innocent people and causes so much suffering. These are the teachings of the Church ignored by many who think they are conserving the Church’s teachings when often they sadly ignore them because it doesn’t fit into a political party they follow – is that really conservative?

  • ddo2013

    while most say it’s unlikely, it is extremely likely that the next pope will be very liberal. Several quotes out of this article assume preconceived notions that just aren’t true. For instance, “the gates of hell shall not prevail over the church.” This is true of the true church of Jesus Christ. However, it does not apply to the rcc, which is by practice, belief and teaching, a part of the Laodicean church, the apostate church. It’s a real shame that so many parishioners in the rcc believe themselves saved and instead are lost bound on the road to hell. The rcc hierarchy will pay for leading these people down the wrong path with their false religion.

  • James L Martello Jr

    I have to admit, I cannot wait until the new pope is elected and installed just so we won’t have to listen to all the tacky clammering against the Church.