Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Hit the Road, Ratz!
by Pa Rock
Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, a.k.a. Pope Benedict XVI, the mean-spirited autocrat who has run roughshod over the world’s Catholics for the past eight years, has announced that he will resign the Papacy on the evening of February 28th, clearing the way for a group of elderly men to name a successor to him by Easter. It will represent a symbolic attempt to resurrect a church wracked by crime, humiliation, suffering, and discontent.
(American membership in the Catholic Church has shrunk by five percent in the eight years of Ratzinger’s rule, and that is even with the addition of many Catholics arriving in the country from Latin America.)
Unfortunately, the archaic way in which the Catholic Church is governed ensures that those leading the world’s largest Christian denomination will always be a century or so behind the general public in terms of social understanding and acceptance.
Cardinal Ratzinger came to his current job from another Vatican position in which he was charged with the enforcement of Church doctrine. He was the muscle, the person responsible for keeping the clergy in line and away from heresies like free-thinking - or any errant thoughts that might be construed as the least bit liberal or modern. Ratzinger had to ensure that the religion stayed mired in the mud of the Dark Ages – as God intended.
The former Hitler Youth also entered the Papacy in 2005 with a strong determination to protect the image of the Church. He never brought the full weight of his office to the issue of disciplining pedophile priests, nor did he show overt contrition for their victims. There was no move toward allowing priests to marry and lead what many might call a normal family life. Instead, the priesthood remains a ready refuge for those whose sexual proclivities might be too apparent in the daylight outside of the Church.
Women fared no better with Ratzinger’s administration than they did with his 264 predecessors. God was male and the priesthood continued to be male – again, as God intended. No mercy or understanding was shown to women who could not manage an unwanted pregnancy – financially, emotionally, or even physically. In many respects women had no more rights or respect than those which had been accorded to women of previous centuries.
Being gay continued to be a moral issue in the Church of Ratzinger, even as much of the rest of the world began acknowledging basic rights of the LGBT population, including, in many places, the right to marry. The Church will begin to come around on this topic when today’s youth have aged into the Church hierarchy – a half-a-century from now.
(I saw a list of eight Cardinals who could potentially be elected Pope. Most were in their 70’s but two were in their mid-sixties – mere whippersnappers – the age at which the fortunate among us are contemplating retirement.)
Ratzinger’s job was to wield the whip and flog the faithful, a chore he seemed to relish. But age has worn him down, leaving his flogging arm incapable of thrashing the meek and innocent into submitting to God’s will. So he is retiring – the first Pope in six centuries to do so. It is a good precedent, a wonderful precedent – but one that probably won’t take hold and endure. That is a pity.
Hey, Joe, you are doing a good thing by retiring. Hopefully it will serve as the first step on the road to personal redemption. Go with God and play canasta.