Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Meet the New Pope…

…and to finish the paraphrase from The Who, “same as the old pope.”

At least that’s the vibe I’m getting from people far more in the know than I am. Michael at Musing’s musings is not amused with the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany as Pope Benedict XVI, and I consider Michael to be my source authority when it comes to what the Roman Catholic church is up to.

We can forget about Vatican II, but I’d be willing to bet we’ll be hearing a hell of a lot more about Vatican I.

I’m not sure what this is going to mean for me, personally. But it’s not looking good.

John at AMERICAblog isn’t too wild about the selection either, noting that Cardinal Ratzinger’s stand on gay rights is in keeping with his membership as a young man in the Hitler Youth, and that as Pope John Paul II’s enforcer of doctrine, it made him the Vactican equivalent to Karl Rove.

In terms of my personal beliefs, the instrument has yet to be invented that can measure my indifference who is the pope. We Quakers don’t recognize clergy anyway. But I am more than a little concerned that a man who defends violence against gays is now the CEO of a rather large and well-financed multinational corporation that claims the Ruler of the Universe as their Chairman of the Board.

The buzz has been that whomever was elected pope would be seen as an “interim,” whatever that means. The man is elected for life. Mr. Ratzinger is 78 years old — acutarially that doesn’t give him much of a chance of serving as long as his predecessor; John Paul II was 78 in 1999 and look where he is now. But a lot of damage can be done in very short period of time — you’ve seen what one president can do in four years. So even if Benedict XVI only serves until his mid-eighties, he can accomplish a great deal.

I’m told by those who know that the first Benedict was the founder of the monasteries that spread the Catholic faith across Europe, evangelizing and keeping the struggling Holy Roman Empire afloat. Oh, there’s a lovely historical example to follow. Step right up, folks; you only thought you missed out on the Middle Ages!