Monday, March 4, 2013

What Will the Election of a New Pope Bring?

The other day I watched the ceremonies surrounding the final day of the reign of Pope Benedict XVI on CNN and the BBC. A number of Cardinals and Vatican spokesmen were interviewed by a variety of correspondents from these networks. It seemed that each of the interviewers asked the same questions regarding, marriage of priests, women priests, gay rights and gay marriage and birth control. I was surprised to hear the questions being asked but I was not surprised at the answers.

The Cardinals and Vatican spokesmen were asked about these topics in regards to how the new pope would handle these issues. To a man those who were asked the questions said that the new Pope would uphold the Church's teachings and Christ's teachings. In other words everything will remain the way it was hundreds of years ago, with no change or modernization.

What really irritates me is they call the Church's outlook on married priests, women priests, gays and birth control, "teachings". I don't recall Christ ever teaching anything about married clergy, gays or birth control. The issue of married priests is merely a sexist tradition of the Catholic Church. At the time of the founding of the Church women were traditionally second class citizens or property, so naturally Church officials of the time continued the discrimination. According to many Biblical scholars Mary Magdalen was a close companion and disciple of Christ, who played a prominent role in the early Church until the Church hierarchy demonized her and relegated her role to a reformed prostitute, instead of recognizing her femininity and her close relationship to Christ.

The Apostles were all married and in the early Church the clergy were more likely than not to be married. But the male dominated Church  conveniently left out all references to the wives of Christ's disciples. Was it early Church policy for the Apostles and early clergy to ditch their wives and their children without any means of support? I don't think Christ would have approved. Right up to and including the middle ages Popes were frequently married and had children. Some were also gay. So where did the tradition of unmarried priests come from? Perhaps many of the subsequent Popes and Cardinals did not care for women or probably more likely, were gay.

Regarding birth control, I am sure it was never mentioned in the Bible and probably never existed until modern times. I could never figure out how a bunch of supposedly celibate old men who were uncomfortable with sex in any way, shape or form, could advise couples on birth control. In the face of the AIDS epidemic where millions of lives could have been saved by the use of condoms, these senile old men still refused to accept reality and allow Catholics in poor countries to use condoms. Luckily Catholics in the modern world paid little or no attention to the Pope.

In regards to gay rights, gay marriage or civil unions are becoming recognized in most of the developed countries of world, while the Church as usual sticks it's head in the sand, referring the matter to the Church's so called teachings on homosexuality. It is odd that at this time a prominent Cardinal in the Church has just admitted to having a number of gay relationships with younger priests. As in the Church sex abuse scandals the Church officials remained silent, until the accusations were discovered and made public. I guess the new Pope will continue this tradition of silence, lying and hypocrisy regarding sexual abuse and sexually active priests, either straight or gay.

What really gets me is that the Church always refers to the teaching of the Church on all of these issues. When I was in grammar school and high school I was taught that only Catholics could go to heaven. I was also taught that it was a mortal sin and you would go to hell for marrying a Protestant or even dating one. I was taught that it was a sin to donate to the Salvation Army's kettle at Christmas time. Long before my time the Church taught that the sun and planets revolved around the earth and put to death, anyone who thought otherwise. Now those teachings are no longer valid. When it becomes obvious that some teachings are totally false, bigoted or used for the sole purpose of power and control, then truly enlightened and sane leaders have an obligation to change those teachings

I have little hope that the College of Cardinals will pick someone who will actually bring change or any modernization to the Church.  I believe that Church membership will continue to decline in developed countries, as the Church leaders refuse to budge. We'll just have to wait and see what the next Pope will bring.

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