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Historian urges Pope away from confrontation in England

Catholic World News - September 10, 2010

Noted historian Eamon Duffy, writing in the Irish Times, suggests that during his visit to the United Kingdom, Pope Benedict XVI should avoid confrontation with secular ideology.

Duffy concedes that the Pope will not always find a receptive audience in Great Britain:

An often rancorous hostility to Catholicism is becoming fashionable again among the British intelligentsia, and is an increasingly noticeable feature of opinion-forming journalism.
Nevertheless, he argues that the Pope should follow the example set by Cardinal Newman—who was, Duffy insists, a liberal. He cites Newman as saying that the errors of the day should be met “not by refutation so much as by a powerful counter-argument.” For reasons that he does not explain, Duffy sees this strategy as different from what Pope Benedict is doing.

Duffy believes that the Catholic Church should change, and laments:

An ongoing Vatican campaign to downplay the novel and reformist dimensions of the second Vatican Council, and to emphasise continuities with the attitudes and ideas of the age of Pius XII, appears to have his support.

Here Duffy is guilty of an odd understatement. Pope Benedict does not merely support the campaign that the historian decries; the Holy Father is the chief instigator, strategist, and champion of that campaign.

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Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Sep. 11, 2010 8:01 PM ET USA

    If you see the spirit of Pope Pius XII in Pope Benedict XVI, you need a new prescription for your spiritual eyeglasses.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Sep. 11, 2010 1:31 PM ET USA

    Mr. Duffy might want to refer to 2 Timothy 4:2.

  • Posted by: Obregon - Sep. 11, 2010 12:43 PM ET USA

    Where does any historian get off telling the Pope what to do or say? The fact is that the United Kingdom is extremely secular and secularism, in its extremes, is an illness the Holy Father will deal with the way he has dealt with it in many of his speeches and writings, not only when he was Cardinal, but now that he is Christ's Vicar. In his time Newman was considered a "liberal" but today's liberalism has nothing to do with the ideology of Newman.

  • Posted by: Sed contra - Sep. 11, 2010 11:09 AM ET USA

    Eamon Duffy is a very competent and respect historian, but whenever he comments on current affairs he seems way off the mark.

  • Posted by: jmoore20082145 - Sep. 11, 2010 7:03 AM ET USA

    Isn't it "wonderful" how so many people think that they must give the Pope advice!! It seems that they think Pope Benedict XVI is naive or stupid! Apparently, they forget that Pope Benedict clearly listens to the Holy Spirit.

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