Tuesday, February 12, 2013
The Pope Resigns
Yesterday Pope Benedict XVI resigned, effective February 28th. The world, in particular the Roman Catholic world, was shocked. For me, raised a Catholic I was a bit surprised, but not really shocked. In a way I sort of suspected he would step aside some day. Lately whenever he was seen in public he appeared to be in pain or a bit out of it, and moved about with great difficulty.
I commend him for having the common sense to resign before he became totally senile or incapacitated. I never really cared for this Pope. I was raised to believe that the Pope was infallible and could do no wrong, but as I matured and took off the blinders that a Catholic grammar and high school education, forced upon me, I saw differently. I now view the Pope as just a political or power figure in a church obsessed with power. Benedict's resignation is the first since the Middle Ages and to me this is rather appropriate as he was still living in the Middle Ages.
The Church has never been know for it's tolerance or it's acceptance of the obvious. It took a along time for the popes to recognize that the earth revolved around the sun and not the other way around. The Church was responsible for the deaths of entire races of indigenous peoples in the Americas. During the atrocities of Nazi Germany the Pope looked the other way. During the AIDS crisis and even now the Church forbade the use of condoms, a proven way to stop the spread of AIDS. In impoverished countries of the world, where the human population is exploding and people are starving to death, the Church insists that Catholics in these countries not use any kind of birth control, other than the rhythm method. They show a lack of real understanding of the problem of overpopulation, while holding on to outdated traditions and teachings.
During the recent sex abuse scandals the Church tried to cover it up and it is widely believed that Benedict XVI was involved in that cover up. There have been scandals involving the Vatican bank and even the possible murder or Pope John Paul I, which will never be totally explained due to the extreme secrecy of the Vatican. The Catholic Church has become more of a an institution of wealth and power than a religion. The Church is far from being a democratic organization, with powerful members of the College of Cardinals deciding what is an article of faith and what is not. Even the actual books in the Bible, were decided upon by those church officials in power during the early years of the Church. The celibacy of the clergy is not a written law, but a tradition. For centuries the popes have been married and fathered many children. During the Middle Ages, the election of the Pope had more to do with wealth and political power than it did with faith and religion. The entire history of the Church is filled with hypocrisy.
With a history of married popes, with wives and children and even gay popes, such as Pope Leo X and Pope Julius III, how can the Church tell others how to live their lives? The Church has no right to instruct others regarding birth control or to pass judgement on divorce, gay marriage or even married priests. We are not living in the Middle Ages any more and the Church is no longer a part of a feudal system. The Church needs to wake up and modernize in this 21st century or it will continue to lose members. With the election of a new Pope soon the Church will have a chance to stop the downward spiral in it's membership and influence, especially in Europe and North America. I highly doubt this will happen as the majority of the conservative Cardinals will assure that the Church will remain in the past and will remain irrelevant to modern day Catholics.