Ann Rodgers, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s smart religion reporter, wrote yesterday thatPope Benedict XVI is proving less conservative than expected. But the main evidence, as we read it, is that the new pope, famed for his reserve, is patting little children on the head. That’s nice. Meanwhile, Rev. Thomas Reese, the former editor of the Jesuit magazine Americahounded out of his job by the former Cardinal Ratzinger, is still out of a job. Rodgers cites an anonymous “informed source,” who says that Reese was “the last casualty of Ratzinger rather than the first casualty of Benedict XVI.” Maybe so. Benedict’s subsequent emphasis on ecumenism and pragmatic approach to Italian politics suggests that despite all his speeches on absolute “truth,” he may be amenable to compromise. Still, failure to promptly deliver the red meat demanded by the Church’s far right does not a liberal make. Fortunately for Benedict, though, it plays well in an American media disposed to declare him a centrist, after all.
The New York Sun, Seth Lipsky‘s young conservative daily, has yet to make the dent in The New York Times conservatives hoped it would; for better and worse, it’s not anotherWashington Times. But like Lipsky’s last effort, his revival of the old Yiddish Forverts as an English-language weekly, The Sun shines brightest at its most eccentric. Today’s paper, for instance, features an op-ed on the nature of eternity by the conservative Jewish writer Hillel Halkin. But what makes it really weird is that Halkin states the case for the ancient pedigree of the conservative bete noire of “postmodernism,” “moral relativism.”