Originally posted by klg
That sentence has two parts: first it is about relativism, and second about ego and own desires.
We've (at least attempted to) address relativism already so let's look at point 2: ego and own desires.
This is a classic example of the pernicious threat that we all face from fundie thought. We all act from ego and our own desires. An atheist does on pursuing atheism and the Pope does in pursuing the Papacy.
It's just that one has the balls to admit the situation and the other is so morally impotent they have to justify it with reference to "God's will".
I desire power and position in the Vatican: God's will not mine.
My ego is threatened by gay men: God's will not mine.
I want to bomb Iraq for my own vicarious ends: God's will not mine.
I want to oppress you: God's will......
You get the picture.....
Relativism is everywhere: Politics, Trends, Youth Culture, you name it.
An example: President Bush is a Politician and he is a Christ (he always says so and I do believe that). He is against abortion. But he is pro death penalty. Why is that so? The bible states clearly that you shall not kill. Why is abortion condammned and death penalty okay? That is relativism (IMHO).
Relativism is not everywhere and the examples you cite are not it. They are fundamentalist.
A relativist position would necessitate flexibility in laws. A belief that the death penalty is always the correct response to murder and that abortion is always wrong are contradictory but hey....no one said fundies were intelligent. The fact is that they are both absolutist. They contradict each other and necessitate that the holders are hypocrites and/or non-thinkers but that's a different story.
What Benedikt wants to make clear (IMHO): the principles of the catholic chuch are definitive, not subject to change (at least not easily). They are guidelines for every catholic man and every catholic woman. They are not changed according to mainstream interpretation of what is okay and what is not.
That has not been the case historically and it can be proved that the Church did exactly that
for a great part of its history.
If the situation is different now then it is merely more proof that the Church changes things on a whim. They changes the bits of their won scriptures they didn't like for God's sake - they are hardly going to worry about changing dogma they made up themselves in the dark ages.
People (especially catholic people) should know these principles and try to life according to these - even if that is sometimes quite hard and even if they fail from time to time.
I can not see anything wrong in this word from the pope. And please keep in mind that this is all about moral "laws", not laws that are enforced in some kind (like the Taliban did in Afghanistan). So, if you do not want to follow these principles, then don't do it. You are free to do what you want. But you should think about it.
The Taleban believed they had 'moral laws'. the fact the Church cannot recognize that others may also be acting form a moral basis because it is different or opposes their own is yet more evidence (if any were needed) of the rampant fundamentalist reductionism this thread is about and this Pope is the apotheosis of.
The pope said that you should not be egoistic and you should not only keep in mind your own desires. That money, power or career should not be the main aspect of human life. Despite the fact that these thoughts are not typical "conservative" thoughts, what is wrong with these words?
typical conservative words - it's just that conservatives are most often hypocrites so they act in the opposite way while saying them.
It all depends what you choose to focus on: the words or the actions.
As a matter of fact I think that Benedikt XVI is not the "conservatice hardliner" as many of you may think of him. He is conservative, but he is one of the best theologists out there, he is intelligent and he seems to have changed as his duty changed (from the Congregation to the Holy See). He is quite different from John Paul II, but exactly how he is we will see in the time ahead.
We will see.
Give him the time and be prepared to be surprised.
That's what I'm afraid of.....we can only hope time is with us....