The world is popeless, and all the better for it. Well, not technically popeless, as there are a couple other popes out there, but the Catholic one,
Pope Gollum Pope Palpatine Pope Benedict XVI, aka Joe Ratzinger, aka Joey the Rat, has stepped down from office. Yes, we’re in what Christopher Hitchens liked to describe as one of those rare times when no one on Earth is infaliable, and as you can see from the tone here, I’m not above firing a few parting shots at the bastard as he flies off to “retirement”.
And make no mistake, this seems to very much be “retirement”, since he’s going to be called Pope Emeritus, will (eventually), live at the Vatican, be called “his Holiness”, wear everything he’s worn before except the Papal Ring and those stylish red shoes, and will be served by the exact same secretary who will also be serving the new pope. That won’t help but cast a shadow of suspicion over whoever ends up seated on the throne next.
Benny 16 must be classed as a failure pope (please note, that article I linked to is written by a Catholic), in almost every way possible. He came into office hoping to restore the power of the church in Europe, and left it in tatters, with the church severely wounded in his native Germany and collapsing like a house of cards in Ireland, the last major Catholic stronghold in Northern Europe. That, of course, is nothing compared with the child rape crimes that he helped cover up as head of what used to be called the Inquisition. There he went out of his way, under the direction of John Paul II, to do everything he could in order to protect the church, and not its young victims. Of course it’s a given that he’s also furthered the church’s stand against homosexuality, female ordination, married priests and condom use, even among married people to prevent HIV transmitting from one spouse to the other.
Whomever the next pope will be (and my guess is he will be a black African, making him the fourth African to hold the office), he’s likely to continue Benedict’s efforts at dragging the church kicking and screaming back to the time of St. Augustine. One part of me says good; further alienating the church from its members in Europe, North America, Australia and, increasingly, in South America is only to the benefit of the world. But the other part thinks it’s a pity that one of the oldest organizations in the world-an organization I famously disagree with and loathe (see also here, here, and here), on every level-is unable to evolve (something that the church believes in, btw), and focus on the benefits, both temporal and spiritual, that it gives its people.
But at least Benny 16 is officially gone, and thank goodness. The man will never face trial like I want him to, but resigning is the next best thing.