Goodbye, B16

Call it “end of an error,” call it what you will, but the Pope is resigning.

Frankly, I didn’t know they were allowed to do that. But, y’know, whatever.

So, I really don’t know much about this stuff, but just as an outside observer who remembers Pope Benedict XVI coming to power at the height of the Bush years, I have to think this sends a broader message about conservatism in general. Benedict XVI (the kids on the intertoobz are calling him “B16”) ascended to the head of the church when the world was enmeshed in a sharp, muscular conservatism, a rightward lurch that seemed as inevitable as it was overwhelming. Roll back the calendar to 2005 and remember what it was like then: we had a second Bush term, Karl Rove gloating about his “permanent Republican majority,” gays reeling from marriage equality bans in state houses all across the country, and the unraveling of abortion rights. A staunch Catholic, John Roberts, was named chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. People like Ann Coulter were regularly on Sunday panel shows. Rick Santorum was still a United States Senator, not a political punchline. The pro-Iraq war government of Tony Blair was re-elected for a third time.

That was the view from the U.S. and the appointment of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to the position of Pope just seemed to cap a global turn to the right.

Remember this? Remember President George W. Bush granting Pope Benedict VI immunity in a molestation lawsuit? Bush met with B16 three times while he was in office (he also met with Pope John Paul II three times — more Papal visits than any other U.S. president).

Ratzinger was criticized by liberals for being a conservative reactionary, a vocal culture warrior on stands against women’s rights and GLBT rights, even a Nazi. The scandal of the Church’s pedophile priest cover-up would peak under his reign — not especially ironic, since B16 was a key player in the cover-up. Then there was the “Vatileaks scandal,” which saw the arrest of the Pope’s personal butler. Stories like this point to a weakened Papacy and a church in utter disarray:

The Vatican is disintegrating into dozens of competing interest groups. In the past, it was the Jesuits, the Benedictines, the Franciscans and other orders that competed for respect and sway within the Vatican court. But their influence has waned, and they have now been replaced primarily by the so-called “new clerical communities” that bring the large, cheering crowds to Masses celebrated by the pope: the Neocatechumenate, the Legionaries of Christ and the traditionalists of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter — not to mention the worldwide “santa mafia” of Opus Dei.

They all have their open and clandestine agents in and around the Vatican, and they all own real estate and run universities, institutes and other educational facilities in Rome. Various cardinals and bishops champion their interests at the Vatican, often without an official or recognizable mandate. At the Vatican, everyone is against everyone, and everyone feels they have God on their side.

The U.S. media didn’t cover the Vatican banking scandal or any of the other “Vatileaks” revelations, so today’s news is mostly a rehash of Vatican talking points, while pretending none of the scandals ever happened. This is par for the course.

U.S. Catholic bishops have been stomping their feet a-plenty over U.S. healthcare policy, so to say what happens in Rome doesn’t affect us is ludicrous. I don’t profess to know anything about Vatican politics but I have to wonder what will happen if a real reformer ascends to the Papacy through all the mess and splinter groups currently sniping at each other in Rome. Perhaps a social justice champion from South America? It will be interesting to see.


Filed under religion

11 responses to “Goodbye, B16

  1. kosh iii

    So long and good riddance. We need another John XXIII or better. Someone who understands that this is not 1517.

  2. As a catholic, I’m happy he’s resigning ! !

  3. Good find. I wish the man well. Not Catholic, but observed him do some good… and some not-so-good for their causes.
    Only humorous thing in this article is the assumption that G.W. Bush is/was conservative. lol

  4. I have no idea. I don’t follow the vatican’s shenanigans, ha ha ha. But I’ve been to the vatican, and the place was awesome, all those antiquities in the museum !
    I didn’t like that the Pope blessed that woman from some country in Africa, the author of a law that gives death as punishment for being gay. have you heard of that ? After seeing that photo, I lost all respect for this Pope.

    • I was last at the Vatican about 2 decades ago. I saw the old Pope, in person! John Paul II was doing some special Mass thing in St. Peter’s Square. The nuns were going wild, it was like a rock concert and the Beatles were on stage. If they could have thrown underwear at him they would have.

      I thought it was hilarious that all of the old statues had fig leafs pasted over their genitals. You know, it wasn’t considered “naughty” until later, and they had to come back in after the fact and cover everyone up. LOL.

  5. democommie

    Southern Beale:

    I was listening to my local drive-time station this AM and they had a tweet from “Blog of God” saying that Pope Palpatine was retiring to spend more time with other people’s grandkids.

    Another wag said that he was going to be taking a year off and then going to be the pope of Penn State.

    My guess is that Bennie is looking to have a say in picking his successor, he’ll be looking for someone a little further to the right than the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church.


    I’m an atheist and I’m THRILLED that he’s leaving. I just wish it was with a little more finality.


    Pope Panzerfaust is a RWA dickhead (or, in your view, a right leaning liberal) who has done everything he possibly could to unravel the fabric of ecumenism that was crafted by Pope John XXIII. I’m sure that you think Opus Dei is a swell outfit.

    You’re right about Bushkins not being a conservative, he was a reactionary tool for the ReiKKKwing of Rove & Cheney.

    • I saw that Tweet, actually! Thought it was hilarious. But I also saw a bunch of Tweets from folks like GOPer Joshua Trevino calling for the fainting couches over how mean liberals were being over the pope stuff. Seriously, there’s some amazing butthurt from the right over this. They just can’t take a joke or two.

  6. democommie

    “Seriously, there’s some amazing butthurt from the right over this. They just can’t take a joke or two”

    Well, not when he’s their kind of Whore of Babylon mouthpiece. Cath-O-Licks are less numerous in the GOP then are the other flavors of teh batshitKKKrazzeepants KKKristians, but they’re certainly pissing and moaning, loudly.

  7. It’s one of the nice things about being pope, no one around to tell your you can’t do something like this. It’s not like they could impeach him for it.
    I suspect he was always in over his head, who wouldn’t be, he’s 85 and deteriorating and can’t do the job. If he really thinks he can’t his resignation might be the most responsible thing he’s done since being made a Cardinal.

    Who knows what’s going to happen. I’m old enough to remember that no one thought Giuseppe Roncalli was going to do more than keep the throne warm for a few years. I’m not expecting major changes, the bishops and cardinals he and JPII appointed are, as Fr. Richard McBrian has pointed out, some of the worst in centuries.

    It is rather astounding to read the instant erudition on the lefty blogs that reads like Dan Brown as filtered through Rapture Ready and World Nutz Daily. As if it’s impossible for an absolute monarch who is 85 years old, in bad health and who was never really suited for the job might not just decide to retire. It’s not as if he’s bound by a 500 year old precedent. 500 years isn’t such a big deal in Vatican time.

  8. jimvoorhies

    A news report I heard on Twitter indicates that he fell and hit his head on a recent state visit. Just as well he’s abdicating/retiring. He isn’t someone who can lead the Catholic church into the future, as tied up in the past as he is. As you indicated, SB, he doesn’t have the charisma of JP. He never was intended to be much more than an interim anyway.