The End of History and the Last Pope
By George Neumayr
Post-Enlightenment liberalism has long regarded the Catholic Church as the last obstacle to its final triumph. The Enlightenment-era French dilettante Denis Diderot spoke of strangling the last priest with the "guts of the last king."
The ceaseless attacks on Pope Benedict XVI over the last few weeks form the most recent scene in this historical drama. Unlike Napoleon, today's forces of secularization can't imprison a pope. Well, at least not yet; Christopher Hitchens is working on this, calling for the European Union to seize Benedict's traveling papers. But they can strangle him politically and culturally. That his popularity poll numbers have apparently dipped below those of the most inane and rancid celebrities testifies to this perverse power.
The children of Diderot at the New York Times understand the secularist Enlightenment project very well. Its executive editor, Bill Keller, telegraphed this in a 2002 column.
Since he wrote the column before he was promoted to editor, he didn't bother to hide his anti-Catholic bigotry with circumspect throat-clearing. He described himself as a "collapsed Catholic" -- "well beyond lapsed." He affected a false modesty about this, saying that for this reason he claims "no voice in whom the church ordains or how it prays or what it chooses to call a sin." But of course he does claim that voice -- and thinks all should obey it.
He made it clear that he was rooting for "reforms" that would reduce Catholicism to a captive of modern liberalism: "…the struggle within the church is interesting as part of a larger struggle within the human race, between the forces of tolerance and absolutism."
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08 April 2010
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