Monday, May 16, 2005

The Pope & What He Means

The Catholic church has a new pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who has assumed the name Benedict XVI. Benedict XV tried to end World War I as it was a battle between Catholic factions. And in the not so distant future from there...

Ratzinger has stirred what I would call war, but I guess not really. Unless you're on the side of the attacked; oh, the female, the homosexual, the victim of child sexual abuse at the hands of a priest. I'm a little scared, but I have to ask what's different about this turn of events?

I did a smidge of research into the Benedicts of the past. Benedict V was pope for one month, having been placed in the papal seat by Emperor Otto, who didn't like the seated pope, John XII. Benedict XIV was a patron of science and art, with a stated acceptance of non-Catholic denominations. Benedict VIII wasn't even a priest when made pope. His cousin was Benedict VI, murdered by a group of Italian nobles. Benedict IX was named pope at the ripe old age of 20, did a bunch of nutty things, resigned the post, then spent the remainder of his life attempting to get the papacy back, unsuccessfully. Benedict XV didn't like Jews. Benedict VII did away with simony, the practice of purchasing offices in church hierarchy. And, my favorite tale is that of Benedict III, who reigned briefly, but long enough to have supposedly erased from the history books any mention of a rumored female pope, Pope Joan.

Anyone who knows anything about Catholic Church history knows its tale is rife with corruption, greed, dishonesty, more greed, oppression, and a second helping of greed. During this conclave, there was talk of electing a younger pope from Latin America, possibly to heal the wounds of the Vatican's handing over of priests in Latin America to crooked dictatorships because they dared to speak out agains poverty and inhumanity as part of liberation theology. And there was talk of electing an African, known for bridging the gap between Christians and Muslims. And, there was talk of electing an Italian, well, because there hadn't been an Italian for a while. But, instead, the fix was in. Conservatism ruled, and Ratzinger's nasty brand of religion is like Windows 2000. Like Windows 1.x, or whatever, it makes your computer run, but a kabillion times faster, reaching more people.

Back in November, the day after the presidential election, I said I wasn't going to panic. I'm still not panicking, mainly because I'm not Catholic. But, my real reason for not panicking is because I firmly believe that the conservative Protestant White male faction, eager to protect its interests at the cost of any contrarian, will lose. I believe that women, gays, Blacks, Hispanics, Catholics, and young people who aren't born of privilege, will wake up and get it. You're being lied to. Hoodwinked. Bamboozled. Flim flammed. It's bullshit, bogus, fugazi. It's perpetratin' a mad fraud. It's wack. The Angry White Male doesn't care about you. They really don't care that you don't have health insurance, or even a job. They don't care about your schools falling apart. They could give a rat's ass about the violence in your neighborhoods, or the violence you face in your school from bullying. They don't care that you're going to have to work until you drop dead because your retirement money will be tied up and made nearly inaccessible unless you're blowing the CEO of the mega-corp holding the purse-strings. I'm still not going to panic even though this man who is the ruler and policy maker for millions of believers around the world has called me violent against humanity because of who I love. I'm still not going to panic because no matter how much wind conservative Protestants are blowing up the skirt of the Catholics and the Blacks, harsh words and harsh actions can't continue.

God have mercy, I have to believe the madness has to stop or we'll all go mad. God help us all.

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