Ding dong the pope is gone.
So, for the first time in 600 years, the Pope is resigning, rather suddenly.
However it is not a surprise. Benedict is a very old man and, by all reports, his health is in decline. Whether an excuse or the reason, it’s understandable.
Needless to say, I won’t miss the nasty old bigot. He was a truly vile man, he supported some horrendously bigoted laws around the world, he has campaigned against any inclusion of female clergy in the church, been the very paragon of the anti-choice movement and is guilty of nothing short of genocide in his battles against the condom and contraception. His words about GBLT people have been so hateful that the insulting moniker of “Papa Nazi” applies – not because of his forced membership of the Hitler Youth, but because his views on GBLT people were not very far divorced from those of the Nazis. And on every co0ntinent we can rely on Benedict rallying his bigoted minions to fight every right we have – from existence to non-discrimination, to marriage, to hate crime laws – the Catholics are there in hate and opposition.
The evil he has done by this man cannot be numbered, the pain he has caused cannot be expressed and he is one of the people in this world I loathe utterly and completely – without the slightest hesitation or guilt. This man has earned my loathing several times over.
Though he is nothing but a product of his church. One of my eternal annoyances is seeing people praise Jean Paul 2 while criticising Benedict. Benedict has done nothing Jean Paul didn’t do first and didn’t do longer. Benedict had the misfortune to become Pope in a very different time from Jean Paul. It is no longer the era when Sinead O’Connor was so roundly vilified for tearing up a picture of the Pope (and that woman is owed an apology).
It is an era where the pigeons are coming home to roost. It is an era where child rape scandals are emerging on nearly every continent. It is an era when the vile abuses of the children’s homes are being exposed to the harsh light of day. It is an era where the “laundries” and the abuse and slavery within are being revealed. It’s an era where we are seeing stories of innocent women dead on the operating table because of backward Catholic anti-choice laws that have nothing to do with life are making even the staunchest of Catholic nations question and disapprove. We are in an era when the Catholic church’s strictures on birth control seem almost comic in their ridiculousness – and unabashedly evil in their effects. We’re in an era where gay rights continue to be fought for and even advance across so much of the globe, despite a torrent of Catholic hate speech that more and more makes the church look like a hate group every bit as vile as the Westboro Baptist Church. Indeed, the only reason the Pope and Fred Phelps are not considered on par with their hatred is the billion Catholics in the world who support and insulate Benedict from the consequences of his bigotry.
This is a new era and I don’t think Benedict was ready for it.
We have to remember that Benedict did nothing but perpetuate the evils the Catholic church has been championing for decades – no, centuries. With the retirement of Benedict, we must resist the urge to assume that he carries the church’s sins with him – he was part of all of this evil – the child abuse, the misogyny, the homophobia, the transphobia, the vile sex-shaming that denies protection to AIDS ravaged communities. But he was only part – he has blood on his hands but the very walls of the Vatican are dripping with it, the stains aren’t washed away with the removal of one man.
But his retirement does give the Catholic church an opportunity – to change. Take this as a turning point, a chance to reverse or at least stop the damage they are doing. Now is the time to try and find a Pope whose hands are clean of the child rape scandal – assuming you can even find one (and if you can’t, then it’s time to end it now, because you are beyond redemption). Now is the time to pick a Pope who will stop obsessing over uteri, stop whittering about consensual sex (would that you cared so much about rape!) and stop attacking love and families. Appoint a Pope who will protect the innocent, not the victimisers, who will acknowledge the wrongs done and strive to bring justice for the victims, a Pope who will try and cleanse his church of the evil they have succoured so long.
Not for goodness – because I’m not sure if there is any goodness left there. Nor for the sake of the victims, because I don’t believe the Catholic church cares. But for themselves. It’s a new era and an era that is becoming – and going to become – more secular. And part of that is because organised religion is becoming synonymous with hatred, with bigotry, with medieval thinking. As a brand, the Catholic church is severely damaged and immensely stained – not because it’s on the wrong side of history as many people say, but because it’s on the wrong side of decency, it’s on the wrong side of morality, it’s on the wrong side of goodness and basic human conscience.
It may be too late for you to change that. The Catholic church may have just hurt too many, brought too much suffering, spread too much evil for people to forgive. I know I won’t. But this may be the last real chance to try for that redemption, for that forgiveness – to try and, if not fix the damage they’ve done, at least ruining more lives and become more than the nasty hate group it’s become.