The Vatican now lists 266 popes so far but the Irish Archbishop Malachy of the 12th century who is now called Saint Malachy predicted that from his time there would be 112 more popes before judgment day and the last one would be Peter of Rome. Well here we are at the 112th and he has chosen Francis not Peter as his papal name and he is not of Rome but of Argentina in South America. While Malachy may somehow still be right, after all he was made a saint, and researchers could find something that connects this Pope to a Peter of Rome but for now we have Francis,
Also we have two Papas which is the Latin for Pope. Benedict as Pope emeritus or retired and Francis the new one and both will live in the Vatican. Benedict is not supposed to try to interfere with the new Pope and he will not wear the traditional red shoes and the papal ring but his retirement package is interesting-US$3,300 a month, free house and free food and in 2010 it is reported that the US bishops gave him a birthday gift of US$870,000, does that ring a local bell? But why did Benedict resign? The church says it is because he could not anymore bear the burden of this large institution, that he was too old and weak to carry on. However Popes are supposed to carry that load nailed to it even to death so then what was the unbearable cross that Benedict was dragging?
While Catholics are displaying righteous indignation at the antics and activities of other faiths, the Catholic church itself over the last few years has been riddled with scandals the most prominent of which is oversexed and homosexed priests literally riding the back parts of altar boys seeming to deliberately misunderstand the Jesus saying, “Let the children come unto me and do not keep them back.” Investigations into the Vatican Bank indicate that mafia money was recycled through the bank channels, also bribe money to political parties in Italy and a whole bunch of secret dealings. Investigations have even more revealed money laundering and other illegal activities and some high prelates are subject to blackmail. All of these bombs came crashing all at once on Benedict as this Holy Father sat withering on his holy throne. There are priests who think that there is need for a more liberal Pope and not the usual old gods steeped in tradition. However the Catholic Church has survived on its traditions and Benedict was known to say concerning radical priests that, “While such priests claim to act for concern of the church they are driven by their own preferences and ideas and should instead turn to a radicalism of obedience.”
He had to bear the agony of reports of priests who rather than do the job for which ritually and ceremoniously a crop of their hair was taken from the top of their heads they seemed more interested in taking advantage of captive churchgoing audiences using the pulpit to throw mepwi black is white mainly to serve the cause of politicians and those from whom they benefit. Benedict who was once called God’s Rottweiler when he worked as Dean of the College of Cardinals and the first among equals could take no more.
The devilish weeds have grown together with the holy wheat and the stewards have failed to remove them. Those who follow other faiths may well be gee-gee- giggling.
The crushing blows may have sent the man into retirement and yet still as Head of the church and with the principle that the Pope is infallible and he is practically a dictator he has to share with his predecessors the blame for the way things developed. So borrowing the title from a truly brilliant calypso song by Ras Kelly referring to the ills of drug lords, I say to Benedict though you are in no way a drug lord but “Papa is you.”
The Catholic Church is the largest enduring institution in the world now boasting a mammoth 1.2 billion followers claiming Jesus the Christ as their founder and Peter his disciple as their first Papa. Since then all Popes are said to be following in the steps of this big fisherman. The papacy is like a monarchy without children and the cardinals, princes of the church, choose the next king. With all the power vested in him any failure in and of the church has to be seen as the Papa’s fault and that is why Francis I of Argentina has his work spread out for him to get the colours to match on this Rubik like cube.
The cardinals in their conclave have leaned on the side of humility, care for the poor and a straight shooter and it is hoped they have found all of these in this new Pope. Let us face it they prayed and chanted, ‘Veni, Sanctus Spiritus or Come Holy Spirit asking for guidance before they began to vote and sang the song I love to hear in ecclesiastical Latin, ‘Pater Noster.’ However some say that with some of their selections in the past like Benedict IX in the 11th century who was regarded as a scamp and Alexander VI of the Borgias who had mistresses and children in the Vatican, the Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity could not have been involved.
You may dismiss this as being a long time ago but what about those who recently covered up the brutal sex abuse of hundreds of children by rogue priests. Yet we Catholics, and yes I am one, must move forward praying that this Vatican can get its act together under this new Papa but if things continue to go wrong he must take up his cross and carry it and fix it because he accepted the job knowing the pressures and should not end up giving us another Pope emeritus in the Vatican. So ‘Papa is you’, and we are no longer prepared to stand aside and look. We may not be watching our political leaders but we are watching you.