Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Choosing a New Pope

Well, today we heard that there had been white smoke from the small smokestack on the Sistine Chapel roof - - “we have a Pope” said the Catholics and the bells pealed.

While we waited to hear (on the BBC World Service) we had to endure the following commentary.

First, the questions: “Will we see a “compromise candidate,” another “global papacy” another “conservative” Pope?

Second, there were the usual “will any new Pope be as young or be as long?” “Is under 65 too young?” The 26 year Papacy of John Paul II was considered too long by some Cardinals or so it was suggested, on the other hand they did not want an old Pope who would get sick too soon so somewhere between 65 and 75.

No one had much of an idea, and it seemed to be taking a long time for things to happen behind the large velvet curtains, so they tried another tack. Let’s interview an African to see whether he will support our own views about the Catholic Church’s absurd views on condoms and HIV/Aids. Here is how that went.

Commentator: “Birth control, condoms and Aids are a big issue for the Developing world, with us we have Father Couka from Nigeria. “Father Couka, who do you hope it will be?” The African priest replied: “God has already chosen him, and we will embrace whom ever is chosen.” Silence from the BBC.

“We can have a Pope from Africa but not an African Pope as such” says Father Couka the Nigerian. “We are financially indebted to the rest of the world but with a Pope from here the rest of the world would, in a sense be indebted to us.”

The BBC correspondent, longing for some other kind of rope with which to beat the dead horse of her line of questioning, continued….“But what about condoms and HIV?” Father Couka responded; “Oh, that issue has been flogged to death, people in Africa are more concerned with morality than people in the West sometimes think.” Oops. Wrong response…..

Fortunately this painful interview concluded when our computer cut out and we frantically had to re-engage the BBC web service. There are downsides to rural French country life when it comes to the complete lack (in our area) of fast lines…

Over to the (poor) television coverage (the children holding a coat hanger as an antennae)…..still nothing except large crowds coming into the square.

Then, the aged Cardinal, introducing the new Pope. He read the name: “Joseph…”……and the crowd cheered, knowing that it must be Cardinal Ratzinger.

So, back to the first interviewers’ comments above. Is he, Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI (named, no doubt for the St. Benedict, so key to the history of the Church and monasticism, prayer and European renewal) “progressive”, “conservative” or what? Well, if you think that the Catholic Church can be labelled in these terms you must not be a serious Catholic or haven’t been paying much attention over the last many years.

For to a Catholic, the Church is in dialogue with each age - - that makes it progressive, no? It may not accept the things each age likes - -that makes it “conservative”, no?

Well, “no” and “no.” The Church doesn’t fit these pre-packaged terms.

The Catholic Church will, despite the hopes of those who disagree, remain against artificial birth control, abortion, women priests and several other things the age thinks it likes. Worse, it always will remain against them and, as children say “double worse” it wouldn’t have mattered which Cardinal had been chosen since all these things will remain anathema for Catholics for hundreds of years to come.

If you are waiting for women priests in the Catholic Church, take up a new hobby, same with abortion. Catholics for a Free Choice on Abortion might as well be called “Vegetarians for Meat” or “Cannibals for Vegetarianism.”

That is why the terms “progressive” or “liberal” in relation to these kinds of subjects just show that the people who push them don’t understand the Catholic Church.

“Ever ancient, ever new.” That is what the Catholic Church is.

The Cardinals of the Catholic Church, fully aware of the reputation of Cardinal Ratzinger (great within the Church, unpopular outside it) and his age (78) have chosen a person that the Western media liberals detest and someone who is very old.

The Catholics have elected a very new, very old, Pope - - how paradoxical and how very Catholic! Some in the media will be furious about this which just shows how little they understand or how little their opinions matter - - all the more reason for them to be enraged!

Iain T. Benson©