Anyone who knows me even remotely well knows that I despise the Catholic Church, specifically its core, the Papacy. For over a thousand years, the Papacy has ruled over parts of Italy and third world countries with an iron fist. It promotes hatred and death under the guise of love and care and at the heart of this tyrannical institution is the Pope himself. In recent days though, Pope Benedict XVI made modern history by becoming only the third Pope to resign from office. At the age of 85, Joseph Ratzinger (The Pope’s birth name) is citing health reasons for his abdication and, staunch despiser of the Papacy that I am, I have decided to share my opinions on this historical moment.
The Pope is chosen by a group of Senior Cardinals, most of whom are European. They vote and then release white smoke to show the mass of worshippers gathered outside that they have made their choice. There then followers a very elaborate ceremony, almost like a coronation, and afterwards the new Pope begins his duties. The entire concept of a Pope is based around the idea of having a representative of God on earth, that’s the entire point. Apparently, God’s eternal silence of love began to frustrate some people and so they felt the need to appoint a middleman in the shape of a Pope. This may well have been the main reason for the creation of the Papal position but there is a more sinister motive. At one point, religion was the most powerful force on the face of the earth. Atheism was neither popular nor allowed and the Church had the power to kill, steal and ever to declare war, The Crusades pitted East against West and it was a religiously motivated conquest. My point is that towards the end of the Roman Empire, when Christianity was really gaining power, there needed to be some form of authority to make important decisions and to be a public face and this is where the Pope came in. If you’re wondering what this has to do with the Pope’s resignation then I’ll tell you. If the Pope is supposed to be God’s eternal representative on Earth, the middleman between the divine and the human, does it make sense for him to say “Ah well, I had a good run, it’s not as if I’m obliged to do this until I die or anything”?
“Fuck this shit, I’m going to Hooters”
Well, that’s just the thing.He is obliged to be Pope until death. There have only ever been two other instances of the Pope resigning. Pope Gregory XII abdicated in 1415 due to pressure from rivals and Pope Celestine V resigned in 1294 for much the same reasons as Benedict. That’s only 3 Pope’s to resign in over 2000 years and a gap of more than 700 between Benedict XVI and the last Pope to resign of his own free will. The Pope is supposed to be completely committed to his role as God’s human representative and yet he stands down. It’s almost like being a carer for an elderly person, it’s a job that means you have a responsibility to both the patient and to the family. In a similar sense, the Pope has a responsibility to both God and to the legions of Catholics around the world, he doesn’t decide when to resign, the only escape clause is death. Ratzinger made vows to God, his life is no longer is own and hasn’t been for the last 50 years. That’s my main problem with his resignation, he is supposed to be Pope until he dies, it isn’t like any other job where you can quit, it’s a moral responsibility to both God and to his followers. The Pope has no say in the matter and yet we find Ratzinger resigning due to ill-health even though Pope John Paul II was the victim of an assassination attempt and he kept going for another 20 friggen years.
When we say ‘kept going’…
Also, where do we draw the line? If the position of Pope is now more of a job than it is a permanent religious calling does this flexibility apply to other things? Do the vows of Chastity still apply? Is the Pope allowed to date? Whatever the answer, the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI is a perfect example of just how loosely the Papacy follow their own rules.
Although I am looking forward to the Papal edition of Blind date…