Pope Benedict surprises some conservative Catholics, Allen observes
December 03, 2010
Just as only President Richard Nixon could open US ties with China, argues John Allen: "Because of who Benedict is and what he represents, every once in a while he can do things a more 'liberal' pontiff either wouldn't dare or couldn't pull off without splitting the church apart."
The top Vatican-watcher for the National Catholic Reporter cites as examples the Pope's efforts to promote dialogue with Islam, encourage action to protect the environment, and open (however tentatively) discussion about condom use. On each of these issues, Allen argues, Pope Benedict has surprised and disappointed some more conservative Catholics.
Allen does not overstate his case. He recognizes that the Pope's words have sometimes (as with the condom issue) been misinterpreted, and acknowledges that the Pope's views on these issues are quite different from conventional liberal stands. His argument would be difficult to refute.