It’s in the Catholic Rulebook, more commonly known as the Bible, that any Catholic can be Pope. The next one should totes be me.
To those who say, ‘Why you?’
I reply, ‘Why not?’
Just in case that flawless argument isn’t enough, let me expand.
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It’s exciting when there’s big news at the Vatican. Everyone tunes in, Catholic or not. I get excited for a few reasons – I am Catholic, I follow the Pope and what he’s up to, and I just love reading the ignorant dribble that emerges from those who take the liberty to call themselves “Vaticanologists”.
Or in this case, a historian. Dr Geoff Nathan from UNSW wrote his thoughts on why the Pope had to go, as if it was a fait accompli that his days were numbered. While you expect the usual complaints from another “informed observer”, you certainly don’t expect a blatant disregard for facts, which should be bread and butter for a historian.
Mistaking John Paul II’s election year (it was 1978, not 1981) was a schoolboy error, and a taster for greater oversights.
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“Declaro me ministerio Episcopi Romae, Successoris Sancti Petri…renuntiare”. Uttering these words in reedy, German-flavoured Latin, Benedict XVI became the first Pope in almost six hundred years to abdicate.
The last man to do so was Gregory XII in 1415, not entirely of his own choosing, when no fewer than three pontiffs all claimed to be the heir of St. Peter. Abdication - voluntary and otherwise - is nothing new for the papacy; we have examples going back almost 1700 years.
But Benedict’s decision is certainly novel in modern times. Predictably, the blogosphere and twittersphere have exploded in conspiracy theories (including the always present, but as of yet unrealised, end of the world), but their concerns and those of more staid commentators boil down to two questions: why did Benedict abdicate and what will happen now?
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It’s a familiar scenario and one which has played out ad nauseam for a long time. It polarises opinion like few other topics and there just isn’t any common ground. In fact, the gulf has widened to become a chasm.
That is pretty much the only conclusion to be drawn from Pope Benedict’s recent ramblings about all things gay marriage.
In his Christmas address to the Vatican bureaucracy on Saturday, Pope Benedict decided not to celebrate what the Festive Season should mean to Roman Catholics – peace, love, family, togetherness, oh, and the birth of the religion’s deity – but instead chose to rail, again, against gay marriage by saying it was destroying the very “essence of the human creature.”
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In a major global exclusive, The Punch has received a sneak glimpse into the Twitter feed of Pope Benedict XVI.
Despite boasting hundreds of thousands of followers since joining Twitter with the handle @pontifex overnight, His Holiness is yet to tweet.
However, the Pontiff is said to have a dozen or so pithy 140 character pronouncements ready to roll, just as soon as he can find a biblical passage to prove that God, not science, is relaying his Tweets to the world.
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For one of the world’s most powerful men Pope Benedict has a big problem with clear communication.
Health experts around the world have rejoiced at a hint from the Pope that it kinda, sorta, maybe could be better for a male prostitute with AIDS to use a condom when having sex.
The Vatican has been quick to clear up that it’s not official teaching so headlines such as “Vatican makes first concession on condom use”, in one paper this morning seem a little hasty.
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I can see why the new atheist commentators Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins want to take on the Pope. Here is someone who fears what Gareth Evans called “relevance deprivation”. He fears it for himself as Pope, he fears it for the Church. To bolster the declining authority of the Church, he has set up the straw man of “aggressive secularism” and sets his adherents against it.
Religion, the Pope told Britons in his trip this month, is being “marginalised”, relegated to the “purely private sphere”. Believers holding public roles are being asked to act against their conscience, he claims. Secularism, Britains were warned, no longer values or tolerates their traditional values such as honesty, respect and fair-mindedness.
Your Holiness, this is rubbish – ideologically motivated rubbish.
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At breakfast yesterday my two-year-old daughter wanted to “read” me the Easter card she got from a relative. “One day, they went in the forest, and then they were finished. The End,” she said, looking up from the card. “Now you read it to me.” So I did. The greeting was:
Easter time is here again
That lovely time of year
When we especially think of those
We hold especially dear
So naturally you’re thought about
And wished the nicest things –
All the special happiness
A joyful Easter brings!
I’m enthusiastic about explaining things to her so I was about to drop a few sentences somehow explaining Easter was really about God, but a thought crossed my mind and stopped me. I have no tolerance left for the Church’s protection of child abusers, its silencing of victims and failure to adequately apologise or explain why it failed to act against paedophiles. Why, I asked myself, should my daughter be exposed to these men in frocks and their beliefs?
For someone raised as a Catholic this is an arresting thought. Even though its dogma is world-renowned it may still be hard to grasp, for anyone not brought up with it, the all-or-nothing way Catholicism requires you to accept, without question, the authority of the Church. Put simply, if you don’t accept the Church you’re not Catholic.
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Ever tried to apologise to someone and been rebufffed?
Pope Benedict experienced just that on the weekend when he made an apology to Irish people who were sexually abused by Catholic priests.
His apology came in the wake of last November’s government report, The Murphy Report, which found the Irish clergy “obsessively” concealed child abuse by priests in Dublin from 1975 - 2004 and operated under a policy of ” don’t ask, don’t tell.”
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