German Pope Loses No Time Purging The Progressive Editor Of The Catholic Magazine America
That is the inevitable conclusion to reach from the sudden ouster of the distinguished Jesuit Rev. Thomas J. Reese as editor of the Catholic magazine America.
It is also worth recalling that Ratzinger purged a leading progressive in the German church. Ratzinger, a former member of the Hitler Youth, seems to be making a bad start as Pope, and it remains to be seen what other reactionary steps may be in the offing. Good Catholics should resist them. There have been bad Popes before, notably in the last century Pius XII, and the Church survived. It must make sure it survives such a palpably bad choice in this case.
As Editor of America, Reese brought honor to himself and his magazine by publishing both sides of a number of issues critical to the Church in America and elsewhere.
Among the issues honestly examined were same-sex marriage, Catholic-Muslim relations and whether Catholic politicians who support abortion should be given communion. Not too many months have passed since reactionary prelates tried to pressure Sen. John Kerry and other American politicians on the abortion issue by threatening to withhold communion from them.
In a restrained statement on his ouster, Father Reese declared, "I am proud of what my colleagues and I did with the magazine, and I am grateful to them, our readers and our benefactors for the support they gave me. I look forward to taking a sabbatical while my provincial and I determine the next phase of my Jesuit ministry."
Father Reese, in addition to editing America for seven years, was also the author of several books that examined the Church as a political in addition to a religious institution.
Ratzinger, who served briefly in the Nazi Army while the Pope of that time, Pius XII, sat placidly by as the German state murdered millions of Jews, Russians, Poles, gypsies and others in its concentration camps and on the battlefields of Europe, has long had a reputation of resisting progressives in the Church like Father Reese.
These are critical times and it's bad news for the world if the Church slips into a more reactionary posture. Pope John Paul II was conservative on many of the same matters, but he avoid a purge like has just taken place.
It's also a story of the greatest significance, and it's worth noting that the New York Times put this story on Page 1, while the Los Angeles Times foolishly stuck it on Page 21.