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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

E.J. Dionne, Part 6

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HH: It’s our turn to go back to E.J. Dionne. His brand new book, Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith And Politics After the Religious Right, has held center stage for six hours thus far of conversation. One today, and one next week will close it out. E.J., welcome back, I hope you had a great Easter. E.J., I want to start by saying we’re going to do two chapters today, Chapter Five And Chapter Six, because Chapter Five is John Paul, Benedict And The Catholic Future, Chapter Six of your book, What Happened To The Seamless Garment. And I must say, these are the most personal of the chapters. Did you intend them that way?

EJD: Well, I did. First of all, I was thinking about this, Hugh, I want to thank your listeners who probably agree a whole lot more with you than they do with me, so I appreciate their Christian charity, or their Jewish charity in listening to me all these times. I thank them very much.

HH: (laughing)

EJD: …or, for that matter, their non-believing charity. Yeah, these are very personal chapters in two senses. One, I obviously am Catholic. The Church has been very important to me my whole life. As we talked earlier, it was very important to my family, the community I grew up in. But also, I had the great gift of getting to cover the Vatican for the New York Times in the 1980’s, and so I spent quite a lot of time with Pope John Paul, actually wrote what I think is the first really long magazine profile of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who of course is now Benedict XVI. So I’ve had, in a funny way, I’ve thought about these matters from a very personal point of view, and I’ve thought of them, also, from a kind of journalistic distance. And so trying to look at them from both points of view has been a challenge, a kind of enriching challenge at least for me personally. I hope for my readers, too.

HH: Oh, I think these are amazing chapters, because I’m on the other side of the same river. I’m the conservative Catholic dismayed with what’s gone in America, and absolutely happy with what’s gone on in the Vatican. And you’re just the opposite. You’re not so happy about the Vatican, but you like what Vatican II did to the Catholic rite in this country, and we’ll expand on that a little bit. So I was sort of reading my opposite’s number. But I did get a sense of sort of reading Jefferson Davis’ memoir after he’d gone down, writing about Lincoln and writing about the people who’d destroyed his confederacy, sort of a…there aren’t really any liberal Catholics left, E.J. Sure, there are people who say they’re that, but isn’t it impossible to be a liberal Catholic, post-John Paul II and Benedict, at least insofar as being one in conformity with to the teachings of the Church?

EJD: Well, putting aside that I reject the Jefferson Davis metaphor, and I reject the idea that the battle is over, and no, I’m not one of those folks sitting in the wilderness pretending that the war is still on. I think there is an ongoing struggle, but it’s not just a struggle. It’s ongoing development of the Catholic Church. One of the reasons its survived for so long is because there’s been a lot of development. But if what you are saying is that I do end up with a lot of respect for these two men, that that is correct. And I believe there are many, many, many liberal Catholics. I mean, if you spend time with the people running all of the social justice ministries of the Church, with the people who do the day to day work with the poor, in Catholic charities, in the campaign for human development, many, many parish priests, I think there are still plenty of liberal Catholics around. And I think when you look at Benedict and John Paul, I think it’s a mistake to view them purely as right wing. Of course, it’s purely as a mistake to view them as left wing. I mean, if you look at John Paul’s encyclical, Laborem Exergens, on labor, if you look at his economic encyclical, there’s plenty to comfort people like me, who think of themselves as liberal Catholics. And I happen to like Pope Benedict’s first two encyclicals, the first on love and the second on hope, which are very powerful. Indeed, I was thinking rereading the encyclical on hope recently. Maybe he’ll go to an Obama rally and talk to him about the meaning of hope.

HH: (laughing) Well, the reason I point out sort of the battle is over is this, and correct me if I’m wrong. You talk about Archbishop Chaput. He’s a friend of mine, and I say that advisedly. He’s just a great man, and a great intellect. And I see all the intellectual firepower, within the Catholic hierarchy, not on the outside, there are lots of great liberal Catholic intellectuals, you’re among them. But within the bishop ranks, and within the Vatican, all of the juice, all of the intellectual firepower are with people like Chaput, and of course, Benedict and John Paul II, and the key Roman cardinals. Who do you look to, who’s actually got a miter, who agrees with anything you say, E.J?

EJD: Oh, well, I think there are plenty of people who have miters, who agree with certainly some of the things I say, number one. Number two, I think that the…what you maybe…I would put what you said in a quite different way, which is that clearly, under John Paul, people who had been great liberal bishops, Cardinal Bernardin being a real hero to liberal Catholics such as myself, were replaced by more conservative bishops. So there are great intellects among them, there are those who don’t fall into that category perhaps. The whole hierarchy has become considerably more conservative. I think that’s a fact.

HH: I think Cardinal Bernardin was a great cardinal as well, but on the issue of life, he certainly was not pro-choice. On the issue of same sex relations, he certainly wasn’t forgiving of those. On the issues of war and peace, he might have been more with the preference for peace, even as Benedict has been in recent weeks and months talking about Iraq. But I go to the point that all of the people who are making the weather in the Catholic Church agree on these sort of meta-issues, from which Americans wish to dissent, such as women in the clergy, the possibility of sanctifying divorce, or blessing it in other than the ruse that is currently adopted, or of same sex couple, or dignity of…there just isn’t anyone leading that campaign, is there, with a miter?

EJD: Let me just go back to Bernardin, because what I think has happened, Bernardin got a lot of grief, as you know, from more conservative Catholics, because he spoke of this idea of the seamless garment. And he linked the Church’s support for life from the moment of conception with steps toward social justice, with opposition to the death penalty, with a rather tough view of the question of when you can go to war. And a lot of conservatives looked at Bernardin and said, ah, he’s deluding the pure message of life by connecting it to all of these more liberal causes. And so I think that what you’re seeing, there are these other questions which I agree with you, there isn’t in the leadership a lot of support right now for allowing women to become priests, or ending celibacy. Personally, I still think at some point the Church will change its view on those things, but this being the Catholic Church, it may take a very long time. But I think what you’re seeing is a shift away from the seamless garment toward a list of the non-negotiable issues, where the political focus of the Catholic Church becomes much more on issues which are indeed now identified as conservative issues. So I can say one more thing parenthetically. I don’t think…personally, I do not view, for example, the issue of assisted suicide as a non-liberal issue. I’m very strongly opposed to assisted suicide, and I tell all my liberal friends that if you don’t trust the HMO’s, think about what’s the cheapest way to contain health care costs.

HH: I agree, and there’s a long discussion there, but that’s not either a liberal or a conservative issue. That’s part of the seamless garment.

EJD: Right.

HH: I’m going back to, you have a hundred and twenty cardinals who will elect the successor to Benedict. It’s a very conservative group now, E.J. Dionne. And I don’t see it ever changing. In fact, I think the elevation of John Paul II was the decisive moment for the Catholic Church for a very long period of time. Why would we have any other reason to think other than that, and that thus, the issues identified with John Paul II and Benedict will remain resolved as they are, quite clearly resolved under these two pontiffs?

EJD: Well, you leave out the Holy Spirit here. And I think that…and I’m not actually joking. You know, when John XXIII was elected, A) no one expected him to be elected, and B) people didn’t, I think, expect on the whole that John XXIII would be the kind of progressive that he proved to be, and you know, so that I think we don’t fully know. But I’m not going to dispute your analysis of the politics of it, that yes, this is, on the whole, a rather conservative electorate we have in the College of Cardinals right now.

HH: And given that, do you expect that the relations between American Catholicism and the Roman Catholic Church at large are going to get steadier, or even more authoritarian as we progress with the American orbit always getting further and further away from the sun that is the Vatican? What do you think?

EJD: Well, you know, there was a very disturbing, for people who love and care about the Church, a very disturbing finding in that recent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey, of people’s religious affiliations. I should say, I’ve been associated with the Pew Forum for a long time. And that is that there’s been basically, that if you ask people how were you raised and where are you now, there’s a very large defection away from Catholicism. The Catholic numbers are being held up, in significant part, because of Latino immigration. And so this leads, for some conservative Catholics, they might argue…I don’t know who that very large loss is, but some of them are certainly liberals. And some more conservative Catholics might say well, good riddance, go become Episcopalians where you belong. But I’m not sure it’s just liberal Catholics who are leaving the Church. But that’s a significant crisis, because historically, Catholics here have been very, very loyal to the Church, even when they dissented from this view or that.

– – – –

HH: E.J., are you coming back for the L.A. Times Festival of Books?

EJD: I don’t think I can make it. I like the L.A. Times Festival of Books. I’ve been there before.

HH: I will be out there. I was just hoping we could connect. I normally do a show from there o Friday. It would have been fun to see you in person.

EJD: Oh, that would have been fun.

HH: Let’s get to the interesting part in the agony of liberal Catholicism, the chapter which deals very head on with the 2004 election. I broadcast that election blow by blow. I sat with Charles Chaput and talked with him about it, and with other people. I corresponded with them. I thought what the bishops did, vis-à-vis John Kerry, was completely appropriate, and what they had to do as Catholic theologians, talking to Catholics who had otherwise become quite dispirited that they saw Communion being given to someone they thought was cooperating with evil. I don’t know how they could have done anything else, E.J. But yet you write, “The 2004 election, more than any other in recent memory, left progressive Catholics wondering if the institutional Church was taking sides in a partisan fight. I thought the institutional Church was doing what it had to do, which was speak clearly and with clarity about the pressing issue of abortion, and whether or not good Catholics could support pro-abortion laws.

EJD: You see, and what I note in the book is, I am very struck, and we actually got into this a little bit on our last time together, that conservative Catholics like it very much when the bishops intervene in a tough way on a political question where it ends up aligning the Church indirectly, at least, with the Republican Party, but are very down on the Church whenever it chooses to take a moral stand, whether it be on the economy or against the Iraq War. Then, conservatives say what are these bishops doing intervening here. I think the problem with Communion is really underscored in this new document on political responsibility that the bishops have put out. They argue that Catholics can indeed vote for a candidate who is pro-choice, as long as that is not the purpose of their ballot. And I think when you looked at the 2004 election, on a whole series of matters where the Church has spoken, Kerry was much closer to the Church’s view than President Bush was, number one. And number two, I think denying a politician Communion because of a prudential judgment about what the state should do about abortion, remember, we’re not talking about whether…Kerry did not say that abortion is a moral good, he did not say that he supported abortion. He was simply saying that for the state to make abortion illegal may be counterproductive. I think that’s a prudential judgment, not a matter of Church doctrine.

HH: And this is where clarity, I think, matters a lot more than agreement. I opposed the bishops’ letters in the 80’s when I was working in the Reagan White House on, especially on nuclear weapons, but on economics as well, because they seemed to me ill-informed, and that the bishops were teaching, especially Bishop Malone, who as I’ve said in past programs, confirmed me, slapped me, gave me my confirmation name of Matthew. I know the man. The man was a nice man, but way out of his league talking about nuclear throw weights, et cetera. And so on those issues where conservative Catholics don’t like bishops intervening, it’s typically because we don’t see there…it’s like Hollywood actors. It’s like Sean Penn talking about Hugo Chavez.

EJD: But you also don’t agree with them, Hugh.

HH: I don’t.

EJD: In other words, I could, if I wanted to, I’m sure I could find a number of conservative bishops or Church leaders whom I would make the same critique of, but I don’t think that would be particularly fair. I don’t, for example, criticize any of these bishops I disagree with for lack of knowledge or intelligence. I disagree with what they did.

HH: But because some things are simple, or where I was going, E.J., is the issue of life is simple. It’s often attempted to be complex, to be made much more complex than it is. But for a bishop, abortion is a mortal sin, whereas going to war is always a just war doctrine issue. And I respect the bishops who thought Iraq was wrongly conceived, and I wouldn’t mind, I don’t think they could ever deny someone Communion on that, because of the opaque nature of the argument. But I will say this, when it comes to abortion, and the choice between George Bush and John Kerry, it was inevitable that if John Kerry had nominated justices, and not George Bush, we would not have ended up with Roberts and Alito. We would have ended up with pro-choice Ginsburgs or Breyer, and that the cause of reducing abortions via the law would have been set back a generation or more. Isn’t that a fair and indeed a necessary observation for a bishop to make, E.J?

EJD: Not when you look at the history and say that when you look at all these Republican administrations, it was remarkable how little the abortion law has changed. And I’ll grant you that Roe is a barrier to that. But the fact is that President Bush himself was not even willing to say in the debate with John Kerry that he wanted Roe V. Wade to fall, so that I think that a lot of this politics around abortion is a very misleading politics. And again, I would also assert that the bishop, the Catholic bishops in European countries, European abortion law is, broadly speaking, Western Europe, a moderate abortion law. It doesn’t go as far as Roe V. Wade did. But abortion is illegal for some period. It’s discouraged. I would prefer that sort of abortion law myself to the current regime. But we don’t have these same issues arising in Western Europe, even thought the government support a situation where abortion is legal. And I think the question of the legality of abortion is different from the question of whether abortion is a sinful or a moral evil, and that you shouldn’t punish politicians by denying them Communion in this case, because I believe it is a prudential judgment as to what the law should say.

HH: But I go back to the reality of what is actually happened. When you had the Bush-Kerry choice, a Roman Catholic bishop looking at that heard John Kerry say he is pro-choice. And now we have seen George Bush’s appointments. Roberts and Alito both devout Catholic men, both very pro-life, and they voted to uphold the ban on late term partial birth abortion. And so prudentially, and I think absolutely compellingly, any bishops would have to say to them this man is going to move American policy towards a pro-life policy, and this man will not, and then advise accordingly, and also say to John Kerry, who in their view, is at risk of his soul if he receives Communion after he cooperates with sin. I can’t do it. I mean, don’t they have to take their jobs that seriously, E.J?

EJD: Well, they should take their job seriously, but that is why in the book, and we’ve been here, we’ve been around this one a couple of times, why I argued that if you actually care passionately about this issue, and if you want to substantially, forgive the split infinitive, but if you want to substantially cut the number of abortions in the United States, reduce the number of abortions, there are steps you can take other than making all abortions criminal acts, that would result in many fewer abortions, because making abortion illegal will not get rid of all these abortions. All of the evidence is that in countries where abortion is illegal, I saw a figure that 20-25 million abortions are performed in countries, I think it’s annually, in countries where abortion is illegal. So let us not deceive ourselves that simply changing the law will end this practice. I think there are better ways to reduce the number of abortions which I devoutly wish to do.

– – – –

HH: E.J., in the second of those, you talk a little bit about why the Catholic Church lost some vigor and some numbers in the 60’s. I have a different take on why that is, but I’d like you to explain to the audience what you see happened to the Church in America, post-1963, that led to its decline.

EJD: Well, first of all, I think we ascribe all of the…there was a falling away of Church attendance, weekly Mass attendance among Catholics now. The truth is, there was a general falling away in Church attendance in that period. And the Catholic number held up better than the numbers in many other denominations. But I think we sometimes confuse, and this is not an ideological point of view, because in fact, one of the people who gave me this idea was a wonderful conservative priest in the Vatican who alas died of cancer, Father Tom Herrion, that we confuse the effect of Vatican II with the effect of the 1960’s generally. And the two happened to coincide. They may have fed into each other, but I think the cultural changes in the United States that were going on in that period, and also the entry of Catholics into the mainstream of American life. Many of us, or our parents, grew up in very close-knit, in somewhat enclosed communities. I have great fondness for those communities, actually. But when people started moving out to the suburbs, the old Catholic culture that was so strong began to weaken. That had nothing to do with theology, nothing to do with Vatican II, and a lot to do with sociology, and the way people were living.

HH: How much of it had to do with the catastrophe, in my view, of Vatican II changes to the liturgy that came so fast and furious, they destroyed the solemnity. They just changed everything at a time when the world was changing anyway. And a lot of Catholics said well, if everything’s up for grabs, it really can’t be the one true eternal Church, if you can just change everything and knock it down, and move to English and turn the priest around, and put in these terrible antiphons and horrible responsorial psalms, et cetera. How much of the decline was attributed to that?

EJD: You know, my understanding of the social science evidence is that that does not explain most of the decline. I mean, I lived through that period as a young person, and I’ve always been ambivalent about it, and in the following sense that first of all, any altar boy who has to learn all of the Mass in Latin wonders what happens to this knowledge after the Mass has changed language. But secondly, there was a stateliness and a beauty to the Latin Mass that I appreciated, and I actually think that part of it has very little to do with ideology or politics, and just a sense of aesthetics. On the other hand, I think that there were some very good messages sent by the movement of the liturgy into the vernacular, and in particular, turning the priest around, because that went very much with the idea of the Church as the people of God. It was about the Catholic Church coming to terms with the enlightenment, and with the democratic spirit of the age, which Pope Benedict himself has said had, was a great gift to the Church. So the enlightenment, he’s not an anti-enlightenment Pope, despite what people, left or right, might say about him. And so I think there were positive messages sent, but there was, you know, there was an aesthetic beauty that I appreciated, too.

HH: What do you make of the general quality of the liturgy today? Now I’m one of the altar boys that learned in Latin in 3rd grade, and had it pulled out the same week that you got done learning it.

EJD: That’s rough. That’s rough (laughing).

HH: Yeah, that was a bad deal. But my question is what do you think about the general quality today? Are Catholics staying away, and I’m going to be blunt here, because the music is so horrible?

EJD: I think it varies from parish to parish, and you know, that we have had problems in the Church, and again, this has nothing to do with politics, problems with preaching, problems with liturgy. We’ve never been very good at singing ourselves, so we’ve always needed a good choir. It’s partly because of our history of relying on choirs. But in my experience, and you’ve probably had the same experience, I have seen absolutely beautiful liturgies done in keeping with the new style of Mass, and I’ve seen some that were less than beautiful and transforming.

HH: I agree. In fact, our mutual friend, Monsignor Steve Odolini gave me a book twenty years ago, Why Catholics Can’t Sing.

EJD: Yes, I love that book.

HH: It’s a magnificent book, and I buy the premise. But we ought to have been able to repair it since the great hunger sent us all over here.

– – – –

HH: E.J., I thought your chapter on John Paul II’s theology and Benedict’s theology was very, very fair, and I think a very useful history, especially when it comes to JPII’s confrontation with liberation theology that he inherited upon assuming the papacy in ’78. Why don’t you give the audience a thumbnail of that struggle, and how it looked to a liberal.

EJD: Right. Well, that was a very complicated thing, because starting in the 1960’s in Latin America, and in some ways encouraged by the bishops in Latin America, and by Pope Paul VI, a lot of thoughtful left wing theologians developed what became known as the theology of liberation, people such as Gustavo Gutierrez, Leonardo Boff, and a variety of others, who basically had a political interpretation of the Christian Gospel. And I would say for myself, I think political interpretations from the left are indeed justifiable up to a point, because as I say in the book, it is very hard to see Jesus as a figure of the status quo. And He did, after all, end up getting crucified. And I think that there has been, over a period of many years, a political reading of Jesus’ message. From the point of John Paul, and then-Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, some of these folks were flirting more with Marxism than they should. They were veering toward a materialist analysis that John Paul and Benedict rejected. I quoted a, when they condemned Father Leonardo Boff, I quoted a Vatican official who was on background, who said Boff makes Rome sound like a four letter word. And so you knew I was talking to an American source inside the Vatican. And so this was the struggle, and I think that as a liberal, I had more sympathy, I suspect, than John Paul and Benedict did for the liberation theologians. I studied them, actually, when I was in college with my good liberal theology teacher, Harvey Cox. But I understood the critique of Marxism, particularly coming from John Paul, who came out of Poland, and saw the damage that communist ideology, as opposed to a democratic left ideology, can do.

HH: But you also explain, and I think this is important, that the liberation theologians were attempting to argue that there were economic and social institutions, what they called sinful structures, that were perpetrating evil, and that John Paul II rebelled against the idea that sin was anything other than a personal act, and that you couldn’t allow a Marxist critique of sin to take individual responsibility away from people who were responsible for their actions, and couldn’t give them the opening to blame it on the state, to blame it on the dialectic whatever. I think you captured it. Do you believe it, though, E.J?

EJD: Well, no, but you know what? If you read Benedict and read John Paul, they did not reject the idea of social sin. In fact, in his recent encyclicals, Benedict has defended the idea that there are, there is such a thing as social sin. What they have rejected, which I agree with, is that you cannot then leap to the idea that there is not individual sin, and you can’t sort of move away from the notion of individual responsibility. And what they were worried about is that the thrust of this theology, even though I don’t think this critique, by the way, is fair to all the liberation theologians, but they were arguing that the thrust of this is away from any sense of individual sin entirely toward social sin, and that’s what they rejected. And John Paul, in some of the things I quoted, many of the sermons I heard when I covered him back in, from ’84-’86, was very explicit that sin is individual as well as social. I think that is a simple truth. I don’t believe that in the end should be controversial.

HH: Now I’ve got a star next to this on Page 139. You write, “I have great anxieties about splits between left and right that deepened under John Paul. I worry about the declining number of priests and nuns, and the dwindling ranks of clerics inspired by Vatican II.” That seems to say, E.J., that you think the priesthood crisis, especially in the United States, is because of political division. I think there’s some very good arguments out there that the nature of the seminary has changed, and I’ll be very blunt, it’s become effeminate, that it’s become…a robust Christian, men with chests don’t want to go there. It’s not about politics, it’s about atmosphere. Your reaction?

EJD: Well, you know, I think that any of us involved in these Church polemics might move away from those polemics, and just again look at the social reality of the Church. It was when families had five, six, seven, eight, ten, eleven children. It was the tradition. You know, one goes to the army, one goes to the Church, one goes and becomes a nun. And I think that with smaller families, number one, and thus the desire of the next generation to continue the family have children, that we have fewer people going to the priesthood. I think there are other cultural factors reducing the number of priests. That particular paragraph also reflects the fact that I miss some of these older priests who are dying, who really did reflect the Vatican II spirit, some of the priests I dedicated the book to, I think are being replaced by a different kind of priest, so that I think that has certainly changed the nature of the priesthood and the seminary, and it’s why I think in the long run, we will move toward, as the orthodox Church did a long time ago, toward a partially married priesthood.

HH: It’s interesting. You’re sidestepping the critique which I think is widely shared. It’s not intended to be a polemic or a condemnation of priests who are in seminary now. But I also would point to the fact that in places like Denver Seminary, again under Archbishop Chaput, are jammed to the ceiling. They’re absolutely bursting at the seams, because they’re very traditional, and I guess our audience would say conservative. 30 seconds, E.J., is in fact the flowering of some seminaries and not other ones an indication that genuine Catholicism attracts?

EJD: Well, I think it depends, not to sound like Bill Clinton, what the meaning of the word genuine is. There actually has been some research on this that has questioned whether that is in fact true. And I don’t think that that is the primary factor.

– – – –

HH: E.J., Page 147, “The words broke like a thunderclap inside St. Peter’s Basilica. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger addressed the world’s cardinals just hours before they sequestered themselves to choose the next leader of the world’s one billion Catholics, decided to define the conclave gathered to select the next Pope after John Paul’s death. He spoke on April 18th, 2005, two decades after the extraordinary synod in which he had played such a central role. ‘We are moving,’ Cardinal Ratzinger declared, ‘towards a dictatorship of relativism that recognizes nothing definite, and leaves only one’s own ego and one’s desires as the final measure.'” I covered that speech that day he gave it, E.J., and spent the whole show on it. I was thrilled by that clarity. I’m a little bit confused. Do you agree with him? Or did you reject his argument?

EJD: You know, I agree with him that relativism is not the path for any of us. Part of it is a question of do you believe there is such a thing as truth. And I believe that there is such a thing as truth. You might say that makes me a conservative, although I don’t think so. And I was in Rome that day, and I had just arrived, and needed to, wanted to write a column on the synod that was due the next day, and I was watching just after I arrived, I was watching that speech. And as soon as I heard those words, my Italian, which is extremely rusty, was good enough to understand that phrase. And I realized I had something very good to write about. So I think it’s again, these things are a question of how you interpret them, because I am against…dictatorship was an interesting word. And I played around with that in my head, just personally, not in the journalism, for a long time. I’m not sure there is exactly a dictatorship of relativism, but I don’t object to attacks on relativism.

HH: And having given that speech, and then having him elected, doesn’t that reflect the ultimate direction that you and I are going to love our lives out under as a Catholic Church embracing Benedict? I don’t see how that changes. We’re back to where we began this hour.

EJD: Well, you know, the liberals didn’t have a strong horse in that race, is the other thing. Cardinal Martini, who’s a fascinating, wonderful man, was the kind of stand in for liberals, and at a younger age, would have made, I think, a great moderate to progressive Pope, was in his 80’s. And so there was no obvious opposing candidate. And Cardinal Ratzinger had been, and I mean this with respect, not disrespect, a very good politician in terms of his relations with bishops around the world. And it does reflect to what you said. I’m not going to dispute your political analysis. This is a rather conservative College of Cardinals. And Cardinal Ratzinger’s election as Pope Benedict reflected that.

HH: Last 20 seconds, E.J. Do you have a prediction on who his successor is going to be? Handicapping?

EJD: I don’t yet, and I would have to go back and look at all the horses, which I have not done for quite a while.

HH: Look to Austria. E.J. Dionne, we’ll talk our last hour on Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith And Politics After The Religious Right next week on the next Hugh Hewitt Show.

End of interview.

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