Weekend reading on our website

A lot of new material just posted on our website.In Shock Therapy, Peter Steinfels discusses what the next pope could learn from Benedict.

The church needs shock treatment, and until the mini-shock of his resignation, Benedict, to the relief of many, did not seem like the man to administer it. Ratzinger, yes; Benedict, no. What shocks have come during his papacy were usually by blunder rather than intention. Evaluations of his tenure have balanced the pros and cons of his deeds according to the lights of the balancer. What is still untallied, except for his failure to unmistakably demand accountability in regard to clerical sexual abuse, is what has remained undone. Underlying conditions like the limitations, in numbers, quality, and age, of the clergy or the massively eroding credibility of church teachings on sexuality are no better than when he took office in 2005. Much of the hierarchy deludes itself with slogans in search of substance like The New Evangelization, or rationalizes inaction with the familiar alibi, The church works in centuries. In fact, history teaches that the church often suffers for centuries from its failure to act during critical passages.

Read the whole thing here.Now featured in our Looking Back series, Cathleen Kaveny:

Thinking about Pope Benedict's papacy leaves me saddened and perplexed. His aim, he says, is to lead people to Christ, and to appreciate the intellectual and spiritual riches of the Catholic Christian tradition. My concern is not that Pope Benedict doesn't agree with progressive views on gender and sexuality. It is, rather, the attitude that he takes toward disagreement with different segments of the body of Christ. I do not understand the priorities of a papacy that ruthlessly targets prelates who are prepared to talk about women's ordination, while doggedly pursuing reconciliation with virulently anti-Semitic priests and bishops. No amount of gentle, pious exhortations about the importance of God's love, or the centrality of the Gospel, can make sense of this incredible disjunction for me.

You can read her entire reflection here, along with previous contributions from Margaret OBrien Steinfels, Robert P. Imbelli, and Richard R. Gaillardetz.And Celia Wren reviews the upcoming HBO mini-series Parades End:

The setting and themes of Parades End produced in association with the BBC (it aired in Britain last year), have inevitably invited comparisons to Downton Abbey. And indeed, many of the guilty pleasures offered by that Masterpiece Classic potboiler can also be found in this less soapy program. Parades Endprovides glimpses of spectacular mansions, beautiful English country landscapes, and delightfully fussy upper-class habits. But whereas the Crawley family saga showcases an unusually large number of likeable, good-hearted characters, Parades End teems with figures who are peevish, deluded, insincere, pompous, and self-serving, making for a vibe that is more bracing and unsettling, and less feel-good and weepy. And whereas Downton Abbey spoon-feeds us plot and characterization, this show forces us to pay close attention, less we miss a narrative twist or a telling line or image.

Read it all here.

Dominic Preziosi is Commonweal’s editor. Follow him on Twitter.

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