May 6, 2005
Stalinist Paul Robeson a "Celebrated Defender of Civil Rights"
"The larger-than-life actor and activist Paul Robeson is a tall order for any play - or for that matter actor - to capture. Robeson was a dazzling polymath (not to mention a stunning physical presence): a star athlete and valedictorian at Rutgers; a lawyer; a world-famous singer and actor; and a celebrated defender of civil rights, social justice and Soviet socialism, who was ultimately blacklisted and had his passport revoked." - Critic Phoebe Hoban on Stalinist actor Paul Robeson in a review of a play about his life, April 26.
Benedict XVI "An Extreme Conservative"
"But many in the crowd were openly and greatly distressed by the choice of the new pope - widely regarded as an extreme conservative on a wide variety of social issues. This included many Catholics who said he would take the church in the wrong direction." - Elisabeth Rosenthal in the online version of her story on the choice of Cardinal Ratzinger as pope, April 19.
New Pope "Likely To Deepen the Fissures" in the Church
"But it is already clear that the new pope is likely to deepen the fissures that exist in the church. The reactions from the crowd in the first few minutes after Pope Benedict appeared on the balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square suggested the divisions he will have to confront." - Reporter Laurie Goodstein, April 20.
The Pope's "Deep Conservatism"
"But while his deep reading and thinking in theology, philosophy, and history were fundamental to development as a theologian, it was the protests of student radicals at Tbingen University - in which he saw an echo of the Nazi totalitarianism he loathed - that seem to have pushed him definitively toward deep conservatism and insistence on unquestioned obedience to the authority of Rome.His rulings came flowing out of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, carefully footnoted and, to critics, repressive and intolerant." - From a profile of Benedict XVI by Richard Bernstein, Daniel Wakin, and Mark Landler, April 24.
Surprised by Personal Warmth of Conservative Pope
"But, with his gold glasses slightly askew, he seemed serene and at ease in his new role as the 265th pope. He did not chide or lay down harsh truths as he did on Monday when the conclave began, warning direly of a 'dictatorship of relativism.' It was his first public audience, the day before he will be formally installed as pope on St. Peter's Square, and it posed again the issue the very same reporters in the audience have been trying to resolve: How a man, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 78, with so fierce a reputation and so long a record of unstinting orthodoxy can also be, by nearly all accounts, courteous, humble, warm if not effusive, and even shy?....But he was smiling, congenial - and orderly. Colleagues and friends say a sense of order may also be a hallmark of this new pontificate, though detractors worry, too, that it might too much resemble rigid traditionalism." - From a profile of Benedict XVI by Ian Fisher, April 24.
The Church's Failure to be "Forward-Looking"
"his worldview is grounded in the ideological struggles of 20th-century Europe and he has yet to show how he intends to reconcile that view with the forward-looking hopes and fears of 21st-century Europeans. As a cardinal, Pope Benedict XVI spoke at length of the perils of secularization and the crisis of the Catholic Church in Europe, where priests are in short supply, churches are empty and Catholics use their consciences more than dicta from Rome in deciding how to live." - European-based reporter Elaine Sciolino on how the new pope is playing at a Catholic university in Belgium, April 23.
"Unstintingly Conservative" Pope "More Inclusive" Than Expected
"The election of an unstintingly conservative pope could inject a powerful new force into the intense conflicts in American politics over abortion and other social issues, which put many Catholic elected officials at odds with their church.Analysts on the right and the left say it is impossible to predict a papacy, and on Wednesday Benedict XVI was clearly seeking a softer, more inclusive tone than some had expected. But they say he shows all the indications of wanting to preserve a bright line around orthodoxy, around what is an acceptable position for a Catholic and what is not." - Robin Toner, April 21.
And Teachers Unions Aren't "Ultra-Liberal"?
"Until very recently, virtually every political force in Utah, from the ultra-conservative Eagle Forum to the main teachers union, had supported the Utah bill." - Sam Dillon in an April 20 story on the federal education law, No Child Left Behind.
Church Hurt by "Emphasis On Punishment and Sin"
"Part of the problem is the church's emphasis on punishment and sin rather than on inclusion and community. On the trip to France in 1980, early in his tenure, for example, Pope John Paul referred to the country by its historic title and asked, 'Eldest daughter of the church, what have you done with your baptism?' That approach, which some here dismiss as paternalistic, alienates many of Europe's Catholics, who insist that it is the church's leaders - not the faithful - who must change." - Elaine Sciolino, April 19.
This Just In From Out of Nowhere: Conservatives "Emasculated" PBS
"Last time PBS caused a stir was in January when Education Secretary Margaret Spellings objected to a children's show that featured real-life lesbians. PBS pulled the episode. So there is something both delicious and sad about public television's decision to rebroadcast a famously controversial docudrama, 'Death of a Princess,' about the execution of an adulterous Saudi princess, that was shown in 1980 over the objections of the Saudi government, the State Department, members of Congress and Mobil Oil, a major PBS sponsor. A new postscript to tonight's broadcast poses the question of whether the condition of women in the Islamic kingdom has improved at all since 'Death' was first shown 25 years ago. One change, however, seems indisputable: pressure from Christian fundamentalists and conservatives has all but emasculated PBS." - TV reporter Alessandra Stanley, April 19.