That headline isn’t mine — it’s courtesy of Stephen Colbert, the Comedy Central host of The Colbert Report, and a practicing Catholic. His word for Ratzinger/Benedict’s resignation: “popectomy.”
I find myself in the same bind as Colbert. It seems like I should have all sorts of incredibly pertinent things to say about Ratzi’s helicoptering off into the twilight, but the papacy has become so impertinent that the only real question that concerns me is this:
What happens to the nifty red shoes?
Prada shoes, they say. Ratzi’s favorites. To be left behind as he he now declares himself just “a humble pilgrim.” (Gagging sounds heard offstage.)
How humble? Well, since he’s said he’ll live out his remaining days “hidden from the world,” I’m assuming he means “hidden” in the same sense as the Mahdi, the messiah figure of Shiism, who disappeared into a cave twelve centuries ago and who will return at the end of days.
Of course Ratzi has to give up the red shoes. Who could hide in red shoes?
Especially since he has such a lot to hide from.
What’s really puzzling is that anyone still takes the papacy seriously. The media are hyping up the election of a new pope for obvious reasons. Men in fancy dress, an electoral race, cloaked ambition, secret balloting, colored smoke — it all makes for good theater. The fact that so many of those involved in all this are deeply corrupt gives an extra thrill to it all. Whether it’s actual pedophilia or “merely” covering it up; closet homosexuality by public homophobes; unveiled misogyny displayed in the inquisition of nuns; plummeting numbers of priests unable to marry a woman, let alone a man; and now, a secret report on a sex and blackmail scandal within the Vatican walls — how could the media resist such a totally sick soap opera?
What we’re seeing is a huge fundamentalist institution deep into the process of self-destruction. It’s imploding right in front of us. The weasel has definitely popped, and the infallible is about as fallible as it can get.
If the Roman Catholic church doesn’t undergo thorough reform, right now, predicts the famed Swiss theologian Hans Kung, it will “fall into a new ice age and run the danger of shrinking into an increasingly irrelevant sect.” He cites a recent poll in Germany showing that 85% of Catholics support marriage for priests, and 75% support ordination of women.
Religious historian Garry Wills’ new book Why Priests? – A Failed Tradition goes further and advocates abolishing the priesthood altogether. Not only did Christianity begin without a priesthood, he points out, but it actively opposed it. And rank-and-file priests are speaking up too, like Tony Flannery in Dublin, suspended by the Vatican for refusing to adhere to church orthodoxy on contraception and homosexuality, or Roy Bourgeois in the US, who was excommunicated for supporting the ordination of women.
But all this is far too pertinent. So let’s take refuge in the impertinent and get back to the issue at hand: what’ll happen to those hand-made red shoes? Will they be bronzed like baby booties? Will they be displayed in an air-conditioned glass relics case? Will they be auctioned off on eBay?
Fundamentalists of all religious stripes, take note: this is how imposed orthodoxy ends — not with a bang, but with a red-bootied whimper.
Fundamentalists of all religious stripes, take note: this is how imposed orthodoxy ends — not with a bang, but with a red-bootied whimper…
Love this line. Very well written.
Lesley, I believe I once said that I’d listen to you read aloud from the phone book, you have such a great voice and style of delivery. Well, I just realized that I am an incredibly lucky woman, because in my head, I can hear your voice reading your own work as these blog posts flow from the page/screen. And your own work is WAY more interesting than the phone book.
I’ll take being more interesting than the phone book as a compliment, Nancy! Seriously, you’re the best. And thanks for the reminder — I haven’t yet posted this KUOW audio of my reading from ‘The First Muslim’ at Town Hall Seattle: http://www.kuow.org/post/muhammads-extraordinary-life-author-lesley-hazleton
You’ve gone and done it again, Hazleton! I’m still chuckling…WyldeMoon
Lesley Hazleton, your post gives me sanity in an insane world. Thank you so much. Karla Goethe
I believe that Dorothy has the red shoes and that Toto has already pulled back the curtain of the meta-reality of religion.
I can see a doctoral thesis here: “The Theology of Oz.”
As a former Catholic I find the current state of the church amusing. They had a real chance to reform the church 50 years ago, but like most powerful and self-blind institutions they didn’t take that opportunity. They could have embraced change, I was in a Catholic high school when the then pope, Paul VI, published his encyclical on birth control. At that time the priest who taught religion in my high school assumed that the birth control ruling was going to change. It didn’t and that was the public end of any attempts at reform. In the last few years we have all learned about so many scandals regarding how the church treated the powerless that the pedophile scandal is just one of many. What is sad that those in power would rather protect power than help those who they have wronged.
Ratzinger was a cipher. He was elected to do nothing (given his age I am assuming he was supposed to be an interim pope), and he did nothing. I don’t understand why any news agency is covering this. It is barely important. Given the number of Catholics I suppose it does merit a line or two, but that is all.
The question being whether another John XXIII is even possible. Naive question, probably…
Oh well, they kicked the can down the road again. They voted on an elderly Argentinian bishop. I don’t know anything negative but he is hardly going to be strong enough to fix anything.
The Catholic Reporter says he’s a “staunch opponent” of contraception, abortion, and marriage equality. How exactly this jibes with his avowed passion for social justice must presumably be considered one of the mysteries of the Church…