The Pope’s election and his views are archaic

By Barney Keller

Now that there is a new pope, everyone can breathe more easily. John Paul II was replaced quickly after his death, and his replacement, Benedict XVI, will now take over the Catholic Church. The problem is, the last pope will probably be missed more than this new guy will be welcomed.

John Paul II was not a bad guy at all. He had a lot of popular causes: Poverty and peace are worthy crusades. However, the unpopular things that Pope John Paul II did were the things that the new pope, Benedict XVI, supported.

One of the issues that Benedict XVI stressed when he was known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was a strict constructionist view of Catholic doctrine. According to the Associated Press, he continually warned the last pope about what he considered dangers to the Catholic Church: Marxism, liberalism, atheism, agnosticism, and relativism. He was a foe of abortion and of homosexuality.

The pope will, of course, become the spiritual leader of more than 1.1 billion Catholics worldwide. This means that he will probably delay the arrival of the more progressive ideas that many Americans and European nations are moving toward. Don’t expect this pope to retract a papal condemnation of condoms. At the same time, don’t expect a massive outpouring of aid to Africa to help stop the spread of HIV. He has to try and mend the fences between Islam and Christianity, but will probably just advocate that they convert.

This new pope has in the past advocated against rewriting the Scriptures to use “people,” as opposed to “man.” He has shown no inclination that he would allow women to become ordained as priests. In 1986, he called rock music the “vehicle of anti-religion.” This guy is the far right candidate for the position of God’s messenger, and he got it. I can only imagine what would have said about him had he been running for president.

Anyway, I disagree with his views on homosexuality, rock music, freedom of speech, gender roles, and abortion. I think everyone does, mainly because no one here takes what the pope says seriously anymore. The pope is just another example of a person with power in a religion that many people neither understand nor want to understand. To go along with that, he was elected by a few more than one hundred people. I know it is a thousand-year- old tradition, but the process is far too archaic and outdated.

Often times, I think that the Catholic Church is a lot like the energizer bunny. And those cymbals are getting pretty annoying and useless right about now. It’s kind of hard to respect the Pope when his answer to the question, “What are we going to do tonight?” is, “The same thing we do every night.” Maybe they could try to make some gains in Latin America or with the millions of African Catholics. Maybe not.

So good luck to you, Benedict XVI. I’m sure you’ll do well in your new role. Try not to spend too much money on the pope-mobile, the gold-plated living arrangements, and other necessities. In this cold and desperate world, try spending it on the poor, the needy, and those yearning for something tangible to have faith in. Who knows, it could be a new tradition. And another thing—would you come to America soon? We have a court case in Boston we need ironing out.