Pope-mania (first written in 2008)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Pope-mania strikes Sydney

 
Sydney, July 18th, 2008 Dateline Sydney! (I’ve always wanted to say that). Pope-mania thrives unfettered like a ravenous pig going through rancid kim-chee. City inundated with pilgrims. Flag-waving, off-key singing, dancing in a circle, marauding pilgrims. Roads closed in seemingly random fashion. Probably a million Sydney residents dazed and confused (more than usual) about how to get to and from work. Thousands upon thousands of man-hours of work lost as people ogle and jostle and otherwise strain their bodies to take a gander at the Pope as he navigates the crowded streets of Sydney in his Pope-mobile. A quote reported on the Sydney Morning Herald website by one Liba Vazquez, 17, who gushed “It’s amazing … I felt lifted. He’s like Jesus Christ on earth…it was worth waiting two hours in the cold for a glimpse of the Pope”. Her brother Amadeo was a tad more reserved in his praise with, “Just seeing the Pope is something.” So this brings me up to point of this blog. What is all the fuss about? Why are people making ridiculous claims about what is after all, I’m pretty sure, a man, and going through extraordinary efforts to simply catch a glimpse of him (I have no idea why anyone wants to catch a glimpse of anyone famous for that matter – how does that enrich their lives?).

To understand this a bit better you have to understand what most Catholics believe – or are asked to believe. I should point out here that I myself am not Catholic but used to be a rather devout Christian in my youth, however that is not germane to the points I am making in this blog as I do not think it makes me any more qualified to make the points I make. So what do Catholics believe about the Pope? They believe in Papal infallibility.

What this actually means is quite interesting. From wikipedia, ‘In Catholic theology, papal infallibility is the dogma that, by action of the Holy Spirit, the Pope is preserved from even the possibility of error when he solemnly declares or promulgates to the Church a dogmatic teaching on faith or morals as being contained in divine revelation, or at least being intimately connected to divine revelation. For all such infallible teachings, the Holy Spirit also works through the body of the Church to ensure that the teaching will be received by all Catholics.’ So from this one can draw two clear conclusions. The Pope doesn’t make mistakes when he makes one of his papal declarations and if you don’t believe it its pretty much your fault because you clearly don’t have the Holy Spirit guiding you!

So I thought it would be fun to examine one of the less common edicts from the infallible one. I am referring to the edict known, rather melodramatically, as The Defect of Birth. This edict stipulates quite simply that someone born illegitimately is not allowed to become a Priest in the Catholic church.

Apparently it was Pope Urban II (1088-99) who prohibited the ordination of the illegitimate offspring of clerics, unless they became members of approved orders. The Council of Poitiers, under Paschal II (1099-1118), extended this prohibition to all of illegitimate birth. These regulations were later approved by other Popes and Councils.

So let’s think about this for a second. One of the infallible decrees handed down through the ages suggests that one is tainted for the sin’s of one’s parents. Leaving aside that Mary the mother of Jesus was herself impregnated in mysterious ways (let’s just leave it at that shall we?) the fact that thinking human beings can accept that a person is responsible for the sins of their parents, I frankly find obscene. I struggle to understand how a religion that talks about the forgiveness of sins (the absolution of sins by some Priestly mumbo-jumbo in the case of Catholics) will somehow accept that a Priest can be tainted because their parents might have had him illegitimately. And what about rape? There were have an interesting moral conundrum as the Catholic church exerts its papal will quite energetically over the subject of abortion under almost any circumstances. And yet an act of violence perpetrated against a woman who is wholly innocent and the illegitimate child born out of following one’s conscience and the Church’s teachings against abortion, will not be ever allowed to become a Priest.

Forgive for for saying this but this sounds more like idiocy rather than infallibility. And for this the masses throng the streets and strain to get a sight of a man, just a man no matter how good he may try to be, that they believe is the embodiment of Christ on earth.

Interesting times we live in.

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