For the first time in almost 600 years*, the Pope is stepping down. Apparently, he thinks he’s getting old. I knew all that Force lightning would take its toll.
The precise reasons for the choice are unknown, but we’re hearing quotes from across the world waxing poetic over what a selfless, courageous decision this was. Give me a break. Simply raising this question at all created a win-win situation for Benedict’s image. If he considered stepping aside and decided against it, it would have been a selfless, courageous decision to soldier on in the face of his infirmity, despite the same having held true for… every pope in the era since they decided to stop murdering each other. If he had considered stepping down and eventually decided to do so, then it is… what it is. A selfless, courageous decision.
But tell me, what’s courageous about hushing up the fact that hundreds of your employees used their authority and endowed trust to abuse children? What’s selfless about turning away from the problem instead of using your position to help your organization atone for one or two of the lives it touched inappropriately? If these questions are troubling, perhaps it’s time to stop basing your worldview on 3rd century Torah fanfiction.
By the way, the procedure by which the Pope resigns is basically the Pope saying “I don’t wanna do this anymore.” And since he’s the Pope, it’s true. But being Pope means you’ve attained a sacred status, something you don’t just resign from. In the Middle Ages, some groups would force a Pope to resign and elect a new one, but the old Pope’s supporters would refuse to acknowledge the new Pope and insist that the old Pope was the only Pope. See the sordid history of the Avignon Papacy for more. Nowadays, they thankfully don’t do that anymore. There is only one Pope, and when he pouts, God pouts. If the Pope decides he isn’t the Pope any more, is that an infallible statement? Or can the next Pope come along, decide he doesn’t want the job, and say to the old guy “Nope, you weren’t infallible when you declared yourself to not be infallible, and I’m infallible, so I say you’re still infallible, here’s your chair back, stick it out, Popey”?
Oh, wait, there’s a loophole. Only ex cathedra pronouncements on matters of faith and morals are infallible, so I don’t think this counts. Ain’t religion convenient?
Of course, that means the Pope wasn’t speaking infallibly when he said he was getting too old, so he could have been wrong about that…
P.S. Who should replace the Pope? My vote goes to Joe Biden.
^The first time voluntarily in over 700 years