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Quiet Rain

Resignation of the Pope

3 posts in this topic

I am not Catholic and I have only an ordinarily well-read person's familiarity with the trials and problems of the modern Catholic church. To me, the Catholic church has always seemed quite corporate in its structure. Very hierarchical, rule-driven, political, with factions and in-fighting and intrigue, its own unique culture (complete with many levels of glass ceilings) and lots and lots of money.

To extend the church as a corporation metaphor, everyone is aware that the Catholic "brand" has taken some serious beatings in the last two decades. Child molestation is the most horrific and universally discussed problem but the demographic shifts the church has suffered in the countries that were formerly bastions of the faith is also impacting the "company" bottom line -- schools and churches are closing, parishes are losing priests that are not being replaced; as they say in business, nobody ever downsized to greatness. Whether this is largely due to the criminal revelations or due in part to the reactionary expunging of Vatican II doctrines, who knows. Hard to pick out the individual rocks during a slide.

I find myself wondering if the Pope is stepping aside to allow the "board" to establish new management, hopefully to reverse the breathtaking decline now taking place. He must realize that he has become personally identified with much that is wrong with the church's current tack. If this is the case, perhaps whoever is elevated next will startle the world by taking ownership of the horrific criminal acts committed under the cloak of church protection and cleaning house. There need to be trials and prison terms for, oh, quite a few people. And recognition and humble apology and reparations at the least on the part of the See for the tardiness and paucity of response, followed by serious changes in the culture to prevent future crimes.

Perhaps that would allow the church to save its influence in Europe, North America and Australia, for which circumstance it appears to be very eager. Perhaps. But, as brand names go, the Vatican has become nearly as despised as Bank of America and Exxon Mobile in many places. Cleaning up this mess, if that indeed is their intent, will not be easy. I pity their next CEO.

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Problem is, all of the voting cardinals are conservatives appointed by this guy and his equally reactionary predecessor. Neither of them showed much interest in modernization, ordaining women or chasing down priestly pederasts. So don't look for another reformer like John XXIII.

Wikipedia reports that the 209-member College of Cardinals has 118 voting members under age 80. Sixty-seven were appointed by Benedict XVI, and the remaining 51 were chosen by John Paul II.

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Oddly, I don't think the conservatives that Benedict and John Paul packed into the college will be a problem for the church cleaning house. Benedict is a conservative's conservative and if he thinks things are bad enough and that he has failed enough to warrant going into seclusion, it's likely he's not alone in thinking so. It may well be that the college is in complete agreement that something draconian and fast is called for to repair the damage the church is suffering. I doubt that any doctrinal fresh air is about to be loosed but perhaps structural and functional controls might be reformed to make criminal activity easier to prevent and expunge. It will be interesting to see a year from now what will or won't have changed.

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