Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Flashback: The First Papal Conclave Meets In Roman-Occupied Judea

It’s Snowmageddoning in Chicago today (and it’s actually kind of Snowmageddon-y, for a change), so I’ve spent entirely too much time futilely shoveling snow so that I can go back and futilely shovel a little less snow later on … but it’s never a bad time for a history lesson, n’est-ce pas?
Kidding aside, I was reminded of that famous scene from Life Of Brian (1979) when a Facebook friend observed that that the Roman Catholic Cardinals are meeting in Rome to decide when to meet to decide who the next pope will be. NPR explains:
Roman Catholic cardinals are in “no rush” to set the date for the start of their conclave that will choose the next pope, a Vatican spokesman told reporters Tuesday.
According to Vatican Radio, 110 of the 115 cardinals who are eligible to vote are now in Rome. It adds that “Fr. Federico Lombardi ... one of the few people present during the congregations [pre-conclave meetings of the cardinals] ... added that he sensed that the cardinals want to ‘understand how long is needed to properly prepare for such an important event without hurrying things in anyway.’ He added that the fact that the cardinals have opted not to hold afternoon sessions Tuesday and Wednesday in the general congregations is ‘significant’ of the cardinals intention to take their time.”
Not that I care what the Cardinals do, but wouldn’t it be great if John Cleese was one of them? Right. This calls for immediate discussion …
If ever there was an institution that prefers Byzantine rules and procedures to actually doing anything beneficial for the world, it’s the Church of Rome. Is it any wonder why those of us who were raised Catholic are predisposed to love baseball and grow up to be lawyers?
In any event, this must be beyond tedious for the significant majority of Americans – not to mention, the significant majority of the world’s population – who aren’t Catholic. Even though I hardly consider myself to be one any more, as an erstwhile Catholic I feel like I should apologize to the rest of you for the obsessive media coverage of the whole thing. Must be that Catholic guilt.
In the end, of course, after all the major news organizations waste untold hours covering the selection of the next pope, nothing will change in any appreciable way. The Catholic Church, as an institution, will still treat women as second class citizens, will continue to deny responsibility for the worldwide child sex abuse scandal that’s gone on for generations now, will still give aid and comfort to the wealthy and powerful, and will still – even in the 21st century – fight tooth and nail against full equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people all over the world.
Of course, I know that there are many individuals within the Catholic Church who work tirelessly for social justice. I know this, because many of them are and have been in my own family, including priests and nuns. But in a strictly hierarchical church, individuals have essentially no power to change the soul of the institution. And so it goes.
On the upside, though, I’m gonna make a killing selling  I Went To The Papal Conclave And All I Got Was This Lousy Pope™ t-shirts.
Finally, on a lighter note, it appears as though Cardinal Fang made an unannounced appearance at the Vatican:
Meanwhile, on Monday “a man dressed in fake ecclesiastical robes was escorted out of a meeting of Catholic cardinals by Swiss Guards after trying to sneak into the closed-door Vatican meeting,” as Australia’s ABC News reports. His black fedora (instead of a cap) was one of the hints that he wasn’t what he pretended to be.
 Fake Cardinal in a fedora – for the win!
Okay, kids. Now get back to shoveling that snow.
[Cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles]

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