~from the Washington Post comes another article about Pope Benedict returning to his reputation as a hardliner. Sigh! The media is like a gigantic echo chamber.
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As he approaches the third year of his reign, Pope Benedict XVI is hardening into the kind of pontiff that liberals feared and conservatives hoped for.
Elected April 19, 2005, to succeed his dear friend John Paul II, the leader of the world's Roman Catholics slid smoothly into his job as pastor of an enormous flock. He reached out to dissidents, other faiths and countries long hostile to the church.
But recently, as his 80th birthday approached, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has drawn a tougher line.
He has rebuffed calls, including by bishops in his native Germany, to let divorced Catholics who remarry participate fully in the church.
He has warned Catholic politicians who must decide on such issues as abortion, euthanasia and marriage that the faith's values are "not negotiable." And he has closed the door on any relaxation of the celibacy requirement for priests.
Benedict's persistent defense of the "traditional family" based on marriage between a man and a woman has emboldened Italy's bishops, who are waging a fierce battle against the government's proposal to extend some rights to unmarried couples, including same-sex unions.
And there was last September's trip to Germany, when the pope's references to Islam and holy war infuriated the Muslim world. Benedict has since stepped back a bit, while continuing to condemn violence in the name of religion and demanding freedom of religion, he has refrained from pointing a finger at Islam.
Indeed, Marco Politi, the Vatican correspondent for the Italian daily La Repubblica and a biographer of John Paul II, sees Benedict's tenure as mainly focused internally. The pope has been primarily interested in teaching Catholicism to Catholics.
Note: traditional family in quotes...the dig about the "dour theologian"....he's an "old man weighed down by the papacy and afraid of change"...the "nostalgic note" about Latin.