It’s weird, this being-without-a-Pope thing.
I mean, it’s happened before, of course. Popes die while Pontiff-icating (or whatever else you call the act of being the Pope – “Poping,” maybe?) all the time. It’s (usually) the only way “the office” becomes vacant. Some people are claiming that Pope Benedict XVI is the Vatican’s version of Richard Nixon, since he too is stepping aside in the midst of a scandal. I personally don’t see what the big deal is; his health is poor and he doesn’t feel like he can perform his divine duties, so he’s resigning. Some devout Catholics feel he is betraying them by reneging on his duties. News alert: he chose the name Benedict. Mr. Arnold is widely known as history’s biggest traitor. Talk about a self-fulfilling Pope-hecy. Also, the fact that the Vatican kept his health woes a secret has many Catholics in an uproar, not to mention that a bunch of the same cardinals who were accused of child abuse will be allowed to select his replacement. The Church has understandably been caught off guard, as this is the first scandal they have ever been linked to. There is word of leaked documents and wiretaps, and the whole thing does have a whiff of Nixon’s hasty 1974 departure from the White House. Like Tricky Dick, the Pope even left in a helicopter, for crying out loud, where he was ferried to Gandalf’s castle for some much-needed R&R (and, one would assume, some really nifty spells and awesome fireworks courtesy of the great wizard himself).
When Tara came home last night, I wanted to comfort her and assure her that our relationship would suffer no ill effects of a society temporarily without a Pope. I pulled her close, looked into her eyes, and said, “Baby, I want you to know that – in this era when the Catholic church is without leadership – I remain Popelessly devoted to you.”
It’s possible that I had Grease on my mind when I uttered those words. Or, more specifically, Olivia Newton-John. But that didn’t make them any less heartfelt or sincere.
What’s next for Benedict? Well, he’ll be living out his retirement in an apartment in the Vatican with a view of St. Basilica Cathedral, will still be called “His Holiness,” and will still wear long, flowing robes. Instead of wearing red shoes representing the blood of martyrs he’ll be lacing up a pair of pumped-up Kicks, but other than that, it’ll seem like he’s still the Pope, only without any Popely duties. He’s also giving up his Twitter account, which really shocked me. The Pope tweets?! What do those hashtags look like? #screwyouSatan?
This “abdication” thing is pretty neat. Had I known about it a few months ago, instead of “resigning from” my job in the music industry, I’d have presented them with a “letter of abdication” instead. This would have allowed me to keep the perks – free CDs and concert tickets – without having to do any of the pesky work associated with the job.
Hindsight is always 20/20.
Speaking of “work,” I have no idea what the Pope actually does. I was reading an article that said the next Pope will have “a grueling schedule” and thought, really? I assumed he was just a Figurehead. So I did a little research on other Popes throughout history, and learned some interesting things. Pope Leo I (A.D. 461-468) bribed Attila the Hun with a pile of loot not to sack Rome. That type of thing would never fly today with our “we refuse to negotiate with terrorists” mentality. But that’s nothing compared with the ignominy Pope Formosus (A.D. 891-896) had to deal with. He was involved in constant political battles and infighting during his reign, and after he died, his body was dug up and put on trial. The judge ruled he was unworthy of the Papacy, all his Popely rulings were overturned, and the fingers he used to make sacraments were chopped off, before his body was tossed in a river. There was even a Pope who allegedly pulled a Mulan-style bait-and-switch: Pope John (A.D. 855-877) was allegedly a Popette. Several monks claimed that John (Joan?) was actually a female brought to Athens dressed in men’s clothing. Supposedly she became pregnant and gave birth in a church procession, though this story stretches credibility more than the TV drama 24. (Seriously, how many bad days can one guy have)?!
The moral is, Popes actually do things. Even if they’re not always aboveboard and honest. I have learned something today.
So, who do you think should be Pope next? What role should a modern-day Pope bring to society? Do you think this post just bought me a one-way ticket to Hell? And, if you saw a tricked-out Popemobile for sale on Craigslist cheap, would you buy it?
- Sistine Chapel closes as cardinals prepare to choose next pope (guardian.co.uk)
- Shaw: The kind of pope the Church needs now (osvdailytake.com)