We’ve been deluged with news about the pope lately. Why does the media obsess about a pope, anyway? I know there are about a billion Catholics worldwide and many millions in this country, but polls indicate most of them don’t pay much attention to the pope, so why should the rest of us who are not even Catholic? It seems the media devotes too much attention to pope stories. There’s not that much to cover, most of the time. How often do we need reminders that the pope today has called for prayers for peace, more goodness or an end to hunger, suffering, pestilence and/or gluttony, avarice and coveting one thing or another? Doesn’t nearly everyone want most of that sort of thing?
Now when a pope gets elected, dies or, in the present case, resigns because he’s too pooped to pope, well, there’s hardly anything else in the news. It’s all overdone, over attended and over the top, in my opinion.
As an ex-Catholic, I feel entitled to opinions on all this pope business. As an ex-Catholic who endured a decade and a half of being Catholic before I was old enough to resign, I think I’m also entitled to reparations, but that’s another matter. All I want now is a moratorium on breaking pope news. Alas, I don’t think I’m going to get it.
Even the Wall Street Journal, a business newspaper for heaven’s sake, has feature stories and editorials about the pope’s resignation. One opinion column, by someone who seems way more Catholic than even the pope, wants the Church to elect an evangelical pope. He favors an evangelizing frenzy led by the next pope, one that will out-proselytize the protestant evangelicals who have been stealing Catholics by the multitudes in recent decades. The article, Catholics Need a Pope for the ‘New Evangelization,‘ appeared in the Wall Street Journal on February 12, 2013. The author, George Weigel, wants Pope Benedict XVI’s successor to rediscover and embrace its vocation as a missionary enterprise.” I love that euphemism for “annoy and bamboozle the natives everywhere in quest of new recruits.
How does Mr. Weigel envision the new pope might go about a new recruiting frenzy? By fanning the frail flames of renewal with a robust, unapologetic proclamation of the Gospel. Oh boy, that should be a lot of fun. Weigel wants to see the church meet the challenge of a Christophobic public culture that increasingly regards biblical morality as irrational bigotry.
I think he’s accusing me and my fellow freethinkers of being Christophobic, since our take on biblical morality would surely include irrational bigotry. As insults go, I’ve heard worse.
Some of my infidel brethren are not excited in a good way about more Catholic evangelizing. For instance, Dromedary Hump, aka The Atheist Camel, mentioned that telling ignorant Third World sheep that condoms spread AIDS might not lead to more peace on earth or positive outcomes. (See Why I despise Catholicism and those who keep it alive, February 15, 2013.) Nor does he favor more abuse of children, oppression of women, obstruction of stem-cell research, male fixation with women’s genitalia and reproductive rights; or at the condemnation of people for who they love and whom they are simply seeking happiness. I guess Catholic evangelizing means different things to different people.
Despite all this, some leading secular media outlets praised the pope for calling it quits. The Onion reported that many believers expressed appreciation that Benedict recognized his limitations at obstructing society’s advancement, and admitted feeling a sense of excitement that a new pontiff could reinvigorate the faith’s obsolete ideology and guide the Church toward bold social norms unseen since the Middle Ages. (See Resigning Pope No Longer Has Strength To Lead Church Backward, The Onion, Feb 11, 2013.)
Here is an excerpt from the full Onion report:
‘I’ll always appreciate what Benedict XVI did for limiting my ability to receive basic health care services,’ said devout Catholic Ana Maria Fernández of Buenos Aires. ‘He was a visionary leader who was undaunted by modern realities and social trends, always vowing to triumph over modern ideals of fairness, equality, and in many cases, even basic human compassion to achieve a darker, far more regressive world for all of us.’
‘I doubt we’ll ever find another leader so committed to reversing society’s natural progression of post-Enlightenment values, Fernández added. ‘He will truly be missed.’