Papal thoughts

The people below the balcony cheered at just the word that a new pope was chosen. How come? It could have been Pope Satan III the Trickster-Pope, for all that they knew. Unless they were sure God guaranteed the new pope was a good one and not a result of human error. In which case, why cheer at the word that he was chosen? He’s not some sun god whose absence puts the world in terrible peril.

And doesn’t it matter to the people who the new pope is? Are they that damned sure God will rig the vote? That God will rig the vote to support their own personal views in the important matters facing the Catholic Church?

Imagine American voters cheering the announcement that the presidential vote has been counted — I can’t imagine anyone, except the most PR-weary, cheering just the knowledge that either the Democrat or the Republican has won.

Or is the audience made of people who think it doesn’t change anything no matter who the pope is, and of people who think the Church isn’t in the business of changing anything?

The audience is pumped up, sure, but it feels to me like the actual person of the pope is almost incidental to them; they would have cheered anyone, would have cheered any speech not blatantly Satanic and un-Catholic. Because this is not the sort of irrational behavior that I get into, this all feels confusing, amusing and a little scary.

*

Left the video stream I was watching open; it keeps showing the crowd from a distance, with its roaring, chanting and screaming on the audio channel. It could be some other religion or a soccer match just as well. If I knew more about crowds, I could probably say something incisive about pope-mobs and football crowds. (I wonder if it’s a pope-mob no-no to get falling down legless drunk after an evening like this? Wild premarital sex is probably not good; but where’s the line with celebrating a pope?)

*

As for the guy the cardinals elected, Francis I of Argentina, well, I looked at his Wikipedia page and almost tweeted this:

Oh this modern world, that I can see in real time a doddering old man take up the stole of actual factual evil, discrimination and lie.

— but it would have needed an immediate footnote, something like:

Anybody that calls gay marriage “a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God” is evil. If you disagree, you are wrong.

Evil or horribly dumb, that is; and the new pope isn’t dumb.

Obviously it isn’t nice and ecumenical to call something “evil”, but I’m personally fairly certain that holding a fairly standard collection of modern humanistic values and opinions, held by people who think homophobia is bad and feminism is good, must lead, if followed, to appraising the Catholic Church as a great force for repression, discrimination, lie, and outright evil, with most of its peculiar features being better in perpetuating these bad things than in causing and upholding good ones.

Though obviously there’s room for argument over whether, say, accepting the miracles “caused” by would-be saints is lying for the sake of expediency, or some wilfully perverse and hopeful interpretation of natural probabilities, or something else — or whether treating the New Testament as basically a historical account instead of yielding to all the interesting better-understanding-of-humanity things Biblical scholars have found out really is better classified as fearful dishonesty (God’s wrath? angry crowds? neophobia? nobody asked, not interested?), or honesty out of obliviousness and unsound philosophical-historical methodology — lying after all implies that you know better.

Ah well; I seem to be getting into one-sentence-per-paragraph mode, so I’d better stop.

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