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This morning as I was reading a BBC "Have Your Say" piece asking readers What Should the New Pope Do?, I found that as I was reading the comments, some of them struck me as being particularly bull-headed, sanctimonious, having basic factual mistakes, and/or generally sounding like aggressive "talking point" debate.  It turned out that most (but not all) of these nose-wrinkling comments were submitted by my fellow countrymen.

Has the level of discourse and debate in the US really sunk to the level of sanctimonious talking-point FOX-news-style verbal bludgeonings? Or is it just me....?

Take the quiz, and see if you can spot the comments submitted by Americans, in response to the question - What should the new pope do?

  1. "Perhaps a Pope who, if he takes a tough line on some matters, explains why to those of us, including non-Catholics, in the light of Jesus' teaching, rather than relying on 'church authority'. The last Pope will be a hard act to follow, but in some respects, he could have made his message clearer. It is religious authority and 'tradition' that we outsiders question, not necessarily gospel truths. Can they be differentiated? This is the challenge for the next Pope, I feel."

  2. "Not Arinze. Not Tettamanzi. Not Ratzenberger. None of the Cardinals who have lobbied for the position should be considered as a serious candidate for the papacy. Anyone who has campaigned for the job makes himself automatically unsuitable."

  3. "The Church in Africa, Latin America and Asia is now flourishing, especially in Africa where the competition between Christianity and Islam is to its maximum to win new converts. It would be a good decision for the cardinals to elect the next Pope from Africa."

  4. "As a once Catholic now just Christian, I would like to see the new pope be someone who brings the Catholic church into the 21st Century. Let go of the pomp and circumstance and stand on what the Word of God says. Although God loves all men, He doesn't always love what they do. Homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, drugs, etc. Are all against not the Catholic church but the Word of God - The Bible. The next Pope needs to stand on the Word. Nothing else will do."

  5. "The next Pope will not be selected by the media - they never get it right any way! By the Grace of God, he will be selected by the Holy Spirit working through the Cardinals and he will have one task only: to do the will of God. His road will be a difficult one because God's will and Man's will are often in conflict. For this reason Catholics need to support the cardinals with prayer."

  6. "As a Greek Orthodox believer, I was impressed by how John Paul II reached out and apologised for the Catholic faith's past mistakes towards Orthodoxy. The job of reconciliation hasn't finished as both Russian and Greek Orthodox churches still have grievances. It's essential that the new Pope keeps this dialogue going. More importantly, the new Pope should not be a traditionalist but a pragmatist. Times have changed, there a new world problems and having views of the 18th century will be divisive."

  7. "The next Pope should be Jozef Ratzinger or one who is not a flip-flopper. It should be Ratzinger or someone like him, because we know him from the viewpoint of his theology, leadership and doctrinal positions. Yes, faith has to be meaningful in every age and time. But we cannot bend theological truths to suit every fad of history. Church doctrine is not a pendulum. We need to stand by what and who we are; and there is no shame in that."

  8. "When the last pope was elected, that was a Cold War era. Now, everything has changed. The life style of people along with new technology has changed the people as such. Those in developed and developing nations are forgetting about the people in poorer nations. Along with technological and financial advancements, a big proportion of people remain poor. The new pope should be someone who has proved to have worked for all sections of society and for peace."

-------------------
ANSWER KEY!

  1.  Bob - Gloucester, UK
  2.  Morris - Maryland, USA  (Morris also got Cardinal Ratzinger's name wrong)
  3.  Bernard - Ottowa, Canada
  4.  Shelly - Georgia, USA
  5.  Mike - LaCrosse, USA (the media-bashing was probably a dead giveaway)
  6.  Mario - London
  7.  Kwame - Brooklyn, USA (this one was a gimme, right?)
  8.  Saju - Bahrain

So..how did you score?

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DISCLAIMER: There were several comments submitted by Americans that were temperate, reasonable, and well-written. By the same token, there were several comments from dirty furrners that were shrill and pinheaded.  By no means am I suggesting that every American who takes keyboard to the internet is a buffoon. But reading the comments, if I started to feel like biting on tin-foil, more often than not...it was one of my fellow countrymen =(

Originally posted to Nim on Tue Apr 19, 2005 at 10:11 AM PDT.

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