Good riddance to aging leader of antiquated religion

by Kenneth Leonard

CARICATURE: Pope Benedict XVIPope Benedict XVI announced his plans to retire yesterday.

“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited” for the task, the church leader said, revealing the motivation behind his decision to become the first pontiff to retire in 600 years, according to The New York Times.  To this I say, he is retiring because he’s feeling weak? It’s like the guy hasn’t even read Philippians 4:13, which reads “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”

You’ve gotta be kidding me, Pope.  After all the times you’ve preached about suffering being God’s way of testing his people, you’re gonna tap out because you’re getting old? Don’t you know what the traditional retirement plan is for the papacy? You’re supposed to stand on balconies and wave to people, dispersing blessings until you keel over.  Frankly, I’m disappointed.

Now it’s time for the College of Cardinals to begin scurrying around in preparation for the Conclave, which I assume involves an epic Super Smash Bros. tournament to determine who gets to be the new Vicar of Jesus Christ.  They had better hurry up and elect someone, because we all know that in the absence of a pope bad things could happen.  Without a spiritual father, the church could begin harboring known pedophiles, discriminating against the gay community or even helping spread AIDS by insisting contraceptives should be banned.  Let’s hope none of those things happen in the absence of a holy leader.

In all seriousness, a legitimate question should be on all of our minds right now: Does the world need a pope?  Is the world better off because a bunch of frenetic virgins announce the election of a new infallible leader every few years?  It should be obvious that the answer is a resounding “no.”

The Roman Catholic Church has more than a billion members, so I expect people to disagree with me, but I suspect this disagreement comes more from a place of loyalty and adherence to tradition than anything else.  What argument could possibly be made in support of the papacy?  I can’t think of a single office that comes with more pomp and self-importance while serving absolutely no positive or practical purpose.  Does anyone believe that the world needs a Latin-speaking, bigoted middleman who lives in a golden palace and wears a 3-foot-tall bedazzled hat to act as some kind of conduit to connect people to God?

It’s time to recognize the Catholic Church for what it is.  Historically, the Catholic Church had absolutely nothing to do with the spiritual health of its members and the papacy was merely a means of consolidating power in an effort to influence or control monarchies in Europe.  In this sense, the pope was a tremendously relevant figure for several centuries.  Those days are gone.  The very idea of papal authority isn’t taken seriously by global leaders, and religious faith is declining around the world.

Scientific progress and the accessibility of information have eroded the foundation of the Catholic Church.  The Vatican is known more as the source of child abuse scandals and antiquated philosophy than as a place where people should seek spiritual guidance.  The fact of the matter is, Pope Benedict XVI is an obsolete autocrat whose reign has caused far more harm than good.  As the Conclave begins, remember that the next pope, like all of the popes before him, will not be democratically elected. In fact, upon election by the College of Cardinals, he will subsequently be completely unaccountable because of his fictional infallibility.  The era of papal relevance ended long ago.  Hopefully the world will realize this soon so we can all say goodbye to these Iron Age relics once and for all.