Institute for Public Accuracy
APRIL 21, 2005
2:00 PM
CONTACT: Institute for Public Accuracy 
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020
David Zupan, (541) 484-9167
The New Pope: The Silencer?

WASHINGTON -- April 21 --

LEONARD SWIDLER,,, Professor of Catholic thought and interreligious dialogue at Temple University, Swidler said today: "I have known Ratzinger since 1964 when I published an article of his promoting ecumenical dialogue in the first issue of the new scholarly journal my wife Arlene and I launched, the Journal of Ecumenical Studies. Unfortunately he is not so ecumenically minded anymore."
Swidler added: "Ratzinger is Mr. Inside. John Paul II was quite open in terms of the outside world, of symbolic gestures in dealing with other faiths, of affirming that other religions had some truths. But internal to the Catholic Church, he was very authoritarian. You could say that in internal matters Ratzinger was his hatchet man. He attempted to silence or stifle other thinkers. For example, recently Jesuit theologian Father Roger Haight was simply told by Ratzinger's office that he couldn't teach at
Catholic institutions." Among Swidler's many books is "The Church in Anguish: Has the Vatican Betrayed Vatican II?" (co-edited with Hans Küng, who helped bring Ratzinger to the prestigious University of Tübingen and who Ratzinger would later attempt to silence).

FARID ESACK,,, Esack, a well-known Muslim theologian, is university professor and chair in ethics, religion and society at Xavier University in Cincinnati. He has placed a black sheet on his office door with "Benedict XVI" written
on it. He said today: "This is a really really dark day for Catholicism, for Muslims, for women, for Africans. John Paul II had brought more publicity and power to the Holy See. Benedict now comes in with far greater expectation and ability to wield power as a result. He also comes with a kind of ideological commitment, a religious fundamentalism, that makes him doubly dangerous. I met Ratzinger on one occasion and it was clear he was not a supporter of interreligious dialogue." Added Esack: "This is particularly bad news for Africans, for culture of life, since Ratzinger has been such an opponent of the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS. All in all, it seems like part of an onslaught of regressive forces making the world a very dangerous place for all of us."

MARY JO McCONAHAY,, Mary Jo McConahay, Latin American editor for Pacific News Service, wrote the recent article "The Silencer." She said today: "One key to Benedict's papacy may be found far from the elegant St. Peter's Square and far from after-mass coffees in U.S. church halls, in the villages and rough urban misery belts of Latin America, the globe's most Catholic region, where Ratzinger made one of his hallmark stands as a Vatican force. There in the 1980s, he powerfully confronted the fast-moving tide of liberation theology, an intellectual and popular movement that linked Catholic theology and political activism in everyday issues of social justice and human rights. Officially, Ratzinger reversed the tide, forbidding certain Catholic theologians to publish in what was called a 'silencing.'"

Author of the article "An Emerging New Catholic Right" and the book "Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy," Clarkson said today: "More than four decades after JFK, as a candidate for president said that he did not take orders from the Vatican and assured non-Catholics that he believed in the separation of church and state, we now have Catholic leaders from Rome to Amarillo intervening in American elections, and attacking the separation of church and state...."