Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Benedict XVI

There won't be much of a honeymoon. The faithful have already been forced into bed with this guy for decades, and it hasn't been fun. There's something in his smile that betrays his relishment of the role of Grand Inquisitor. He tried to twist that smile into something conveying Benevolent Pastor as he presented himself on the balcony for the Urbe et Orbe blessing (which, big time sinners take note, is good for a whooping big indulgence). Think formulaic Hollywood: the seemingly nice man smiles upon his victim revealing the bloodied fangs of a vampire. My body hair stood up as I received this blessing. It was cold and unGodly.

I hear that he has said quite plainly that he will not mind the shrinkage of the Roman Catholic Church due to conservative adherence to doctrine. OK, so he's just another stubborn old man who has stopped trusting the unfettered breezes of the Holy Spirit for guidance, preferring to rail against the targets of the old school: gays and women. He stands with that group in "The Poseidon Adventure" that did not go with Shelley Winters. They said, "Nope. We're going to stay right here in the ballroom. Better to dig in our heels rather than to start scampering about." We all know what happened to them.

His choice of name is telling. While casting back to a time and place in which he would feel comfortable, he logically discarded John, Paul and the two John Pauls. But some may wonder why he sidestepped the last century's hugest Germanophile, Pius XII. Maybe it is because of Pius's own difficulties with the Nazis, or because Ratzinger knows that when John XXIII became Pope, the first thing he found on his desk was Pius's plan to call for a Vatican Council, but I suspect the real reason has more to do with Pius's relationship with Cardinal Spellman. There's not much in Benedict XV that stirs the modern heart, but by golly, Ratzinger could place a dollar on the fact that he was a damn fine specimen of an asexual priest.

He's 78. His dictates will be largely ignored, and he is probably not the last nail in the coffin of Roman Catholicism.

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