At the risk of annoying Les by talking about the Pope again, I’d like to offer a few thoughts on the election of Pope Benedict XVI (previously known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger). Personally I believe that the church could have chosen someone better as their supreme leader, and here’s why:
- First of all, he’s even more conservative than his predecessor, John Paul II. The Catholic church has attracted criticism for its conservative stances on subjects like AIDS and condoms before, and how it covered up child abuse allegations by Catholic priests. A more liberal Pope would take a more tolerant line on contraception which might just stop the HIV epidemic that is sweeping Africa right now.
- Ratzinger also has a reputation for being rather reactionary. The Vatican has made various reactionary statements about current affairs in the past and I imagine that this is only going to continue, to the church’s detriment.
- Ratzinger is old. He’s 78 – only 6 years younger than the age at which John Paul II died a few weeks ago. If the Catholic church wanted a strong leader to guide its followers for years to come then they have picked the wrong man. Instead, we may well have the same puppetted figure as before.
I fear that not only will we see the death of this Pope within many of our lifetimes but that the next few years will not see the revolution in the church that some of us had been hoping for. At best we can expect more of the same, but it has the potential to get a lot worse.