So the Pope has only gone and given tinkle to heaven’s hotline to call in sick – permanently. With the start of Lent, here’s me quitting celibacy (again), while Big Joe gives up the Vatican, for good. It’s true, old age doesn’t come itself. But fair play, 15 years from a diplomatic birthday card from the Queen is quite a good run so far. If you’re old enough to remember your stint in the Hitler Youth, you know you’ve been about a bit. I’ll refrain from delving into what might be said of the Benny Legacy, that’s for wordy theologians to assess in the now and later. Though compared to Pope John Paul II, Joe had a short stint, perhaps struggling to match the charisma of the Polish ex-goalie. Nonetheless, remembering his surname was a cracker for crosswords and pub quiz sudden death rounds.
Never since before the Reformation has a sitting pope left the building without having first popped his red leather pumps. A CNN correspondent based in Rome reported his retirement at the end of this month was “because of advanced age.” Some might say we live in an age that’s too advanced for the Pope. I imagine it’s not just the most liberal and moderate of Catholics who’ll pray that a new reign might enfold with questions being raised on those most humanitarian, and in turn, controversial of issues. Will a new papacy give license to the question of abortion, condoms and female ordination, in the cases of rape, over-population/AIDS, and sexual democracy respectively?
Looking at the runners and riders it’s fair to say this is a longshot. The exiting Pope has, in his 8 years as head of the Catholic Church, surrounded himself with conservative yes men cardinals, as had John Paul II before him. It’s a shame the new Pope won’t be chosen via an X Factor audition style route. Adding to that, I can’t shake this vision of red buzzers in front of every pew dweller as the potential candidates wait in the vestry with their oral schpeel, fashion statement and contemporary dance routine at the ready. Only then will we know the new pontiff will be chosen on the premiss that the Vatican’s Got Talent.
There’s a joke that only works in Glasgow due to linguistics. . .
What happens when the Pope goes? Another wan popes up!
Step up the two favourites for the pontificate, Cardinals Francis Arinze of Nigeria and Peter Turkson of Ghana. The latter has a Facebook page. Let’s hoping he doesn’t go looking for likes. A black man chief honcho in the White House and the Vatican? That’s modernity for you. On the flip side, both African candidates are known for their anti-gay stance, Oh Jesus, how progressive.
If I had a one to one audience with the new Pope, the first thing I’d call upon is what Jesus said about homosexuality. Secondly, I’d like to know, would there be no whitewash in the Vatican when it came to covering up cases of sexual abuse? Though a crucial issue to gay Christians, you could argue that there’s not a lot of meat on the bones of the one about JC and the homos, as he said, well. . .nothing. The sexual abuse concern is undoubtedly tender and haunting still. At its peak the clergy played down the scandal in the exposed noughties by stating it was only 1% of priests worldwide who’d been defrocked or convicted of their sin. Well that’s alright then. Though hang about, that only fraction was made out of 500,000 men of the cloth. Initially covered up, that’s 5000 recorded cases of children or young adults experiencing a horror no person should ever come close to. The most defensive of Catholics might point out that in the US most abuse allegations overall stemmed from Protestant churches, though that does absolutely nothing to erase 5000 or more traumas from their conscience. In an attempt to make a link between homosexual tendencies and rear guarding abuse, the Catholic Church has instituted a reform due to “noting the preponderance of adolescent males (teenage boys) amongst victims of abuse, a more searching inquiry is necessary for a homosexually oriented man.” While according to the Economist the Church has also “prohibited the ordination of men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies.” I wonder how contenders Frankie or Pete would like it if they were locked out the big house, with the Church citing for reasons of deep-rooted blackness?
While I can totally appreciate that the Pope shouldn’t take his cues from modern society, which is the cry of orthodox, conservative Catholics; the gospels of the bible are the Church’s to claim, not to change. The voice of the Catholic divorcee, the gay female church volunteer, the Thornbirds-esque priest et al is looking to be heard and guided with love and compassion, rather than casted by stone and sent outside along with the farts in the wind. Surely it’s the pew dwellers and even the lapsed who make up the Church. So is not the power of the people stronger that the people in power? Am not talking about anarchy here, or throwing over the Vatican (though it would make a fun day out) but suppose the Catholic Church and the its new leader get with the times a tad. . .give me one good reason why woman cannot be ordained for Christ’s sake!?
Before I take blasphemy to a new stage, to be fair, in the current shadow of Catholic sexual un-democracy, homophobia and secrecy, am all for quitting the celibacy for keeps, and finding love in a Popeless place.