So, the pope is retiring. Even in Canada, which is hardly a Catholic country, this apparently ranks right up there with the fact that Harper’s select senators are pilfering the public purse. Which is a story I’ll return to tomorrow. But today the press and, more importantly, the government media page are devoted to glowing retrospectives on Benedict XVI, so Sixth Estate will be, too.
On that note, I’m seriously starting to wonder who writes editorials at the Globe & Mail. Are they just incredibly dense, or is this a joke to them? Honestly, how does anyone who pays the slightest bit of attention to world affairs — and we must assume that professional journalists do — write in all seriousness that Benedict XVI “established reasonably solid reforms to prevent… sexual abuse of children,” that he has applied “real freshness” to the role of the Catholic church in the 21st century, and that he has “contributed much to the world as a writer, philosopher, and theologian”?
He has done nothing of the kind, nor could he be expected to. Benedict XVI’s tenure as a pope was a failure, as was his predecessor’s, and as his successor’s likely will be.
It was a failure because Benedict XVI combined the worst reactionary instincts of Catholic dogma with the worst of religion’s routine anti-science bias to make an incredible proclamation that a “contraception mentality” would do even greater damage to African nations, and other human societies, than HIV/AIDS.
It was a failure because he continued to adhere to one of the church’s silliest superstitions of all, the myth that people are made saints because they have performed documented miracles. Benedict anointed two Canadian saints: a long-dead Mohawk woman and a Quebecois faith healer. Kateri Tekakwitha was officially canonized on the grounds that a few years ago an American boy was cured of a life-threatening infection by means of some combination of antibiotics and intercessory prayers to Kateri’s spirit — which is sort of like saying that I quenched my thirst with a combination of water and air. Anyways, Kateri was made a saint, and so was Brother Andre, and the Canadian government fell all over itself in a humiliating display of gratitude. The Catholic Church continues to make a respectable income selling ostensibly magical fluids at Andre’s old site of business in Montreal.
But most of all, Benedict’s time in office was a failure because he took no steps to reverse the Catholic Church’s morally repugnant claim that men enjoy a divinely appointed right to occupy positions of religious authority that are banned to women. The fact that the largest religious organization in the world, and in world history, continues in the 21st century to preach that men and women are unequal by divine right is a scandal of enormous proportions.
Fortunately, it hardly matters, because the Catholic Church’s influence is declining by the day, which is yet another thing that Benedict XVI’s far-right reign did nothing to prevent.Tweet