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Benedict's accession to bring good things to Louisiana

So we’ve got a new Holy Father; what does that mean for Louisiana? Perhaps no place in America will be affected more than here, given its higher proportion of Catholics and the fact it has by far the most black Catholics of any state.

Because of his role heading up the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the German cardinal earned a reputation as a strict traditionalist, sometimes aggressively defending the church. It was a reputation that has those who call themselves Catholics, as well as those outside of the Church, who disagree with those views, nervous that their modernist agendas will suffer setbacks. As a result, comments from these people include things along the lines of “being a pope is different from being a cardinal” or “he’s a transitional pope because of his age” or “he may well surprise people.”

All true. Then again, many thought John XXIII would be transitional yet he lived long enough to launch the reforms of Vatican II. And Benedict XVI leaves a long track record of scholarly publications and actions demonstrating the unlikelihood of his wavering from defending the Church against the excesses of the modernist spirit.

As far as Louisiana goes, during his tenure Benedict probably will get a chance to appoint four of the bishops in the state (already he will choose the Bishop of Lake Charles due to recent reassignment and of Alexandria because of a long vacancy). That will probably mean bishops less like the Most Reverend William Friend (who now serves as chairman of the National Conference of Catholic BishopsCampaign for Human Development Ad Hoc Committee) and more like the retired Most Reverend Philip Hannan.

Appointments and his fidelity to the Church’s basic, absolute teachings should lead to a renaissance of Catholicism, particularly in a state where the Church is so ingrained in the public square (such as in education). Problems in the American church have not come as a consequence of this fidelity, but from a lack of it. A scheduled review of American seminaries, which have increasingly tolerated apostasizing behavior in candidates, would be a great place to start.

Benedict has already given signs he plans to make considerable outreach efforts to non-Catholics, but his efforts should extend to within a minority within the Church. Hopefully, those entered into the Church yet who do not fully embrace their Catholic faith will find Benedict’s papacy one that brings them closer to the Church’s teachings, and for those already there, with these others his papacy will bring them closer communion to God our Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

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