Monday, February 11, 2013

Benny, We Hardly Knew Ye

Well, you got your pope pennants, buttons, your pope clothes,
You got your pope binoculars to see him up close
And I cried when I saw that man in white;
I cried, much to my surrounders' delight.
I cried, 'cause I couldn’t breathe anymore; I cried
'cause people were stepping on my feet.
Hey, hey Mr. Holiness way over there,
Maybe we love you, but we're sadly lacking air.
Then he scooted away in that great Popemobile
I was feeling so trampled, I didn’t know what else to feel
— Meryn Cadell, The Pope

Today Pope Benedict XVI—or "@Pontifex", the name under which he trolls millions of Twitter followers—announced he will be "stepping down" or "resigning" or "abdicating" or "renouncing the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of St Peter" or whatever we all decide to call it when the dust settles (because we're not even close to an agreement today) at the end of February. The last Pope to resign or abdicate or...look, I'm just going to say "resign" and leave it at that, ok?...anyhow, the last Pope to leave before he died was Gregory XII—and he hardly had a real choice in the matter because the Papal Schism in the Catholic Church was just coming to a head at the time. That was in 1415, or nearly six hundred years ago; the last to quit "willingly" was over one hundred years earlier: Celestine V in 1294. Ironically, the last thing he did as Supreme Pontiff was to issue a decree which made it permissible for a Pope to resign...and then did so himself, prompting Dante to roundly condemn him in his The Divine Comedy. It is a bit odd, though, that Benny Sixteen is only the second Pope to take Celestine up on that offer in over seven hundred years. In fact, he's one of only a handful to have ever quit the post, but the second Benedict (IX in 1245) to do so. When you consider that his immediate predecessor was shot but didn't give up the ship, it's a bit tough to have a lot of sympathy for his claim that he's too "old and frail" to continue, even if you accept that as the truth.

Apparently, Marc Cardinal Ouellet, former Archbishop of Quebec City, is a frontrunner for the next Champion of the White Smoke. It's difficult to see him having a worse go of it, should he be successful in being elected; after all, how many homophobic, paedophilia-apologizing, Jew-hating, Islamic-baiting, mob-connected, backwards-thinking, rock-music-hating, ex-Hitler-Youth men can there.....ok, ok, I can't do this. I am quite solidly against Organized Religion in general and I could continue very far down this rabbit hole in no time at all, so I think I had better stop writing from my own heart at this point before I'm down to two readers. (Full disclosure as well: I learned today that Joe Ratzinger was actually conscripted into the Hitler Youth as it was compulsory at the time and nobody in his family ever joined the Nazi party; in fact, he himself deserted the German army in 1945 and spent some time in an American POW camp. It doesn't excuse his last eight years, though.)

What I'll do to round out this piece is pass along a few of my favourites of the myriad jokes and other comments I read today that are de rigeur after this type of seismic social event.

There were several variations of the "Pope asplode because Twitter" theme:

I loved this shoutout to The Prisoner because I am that nerdy:

There were nearly infinite iterations of the "good Catholics always pull out early" joke:

One of my favourite writers, Ed Keenan, cleverly used the opportunity to take a shot across the bow of Tweedle Rob:

And then there was this image, splashed all over the internet today, of lightning striking the dome of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, just moments after the Pope announced his resignation.... which point the Popemobile™, having reached a speed of 88 mph with a full Flux Capacitor, vanished from view, leaving two fiery tire tracks in its wake. Good luck in 1955, Your Popitude! I'm sure you'll fit right in.

***If you'd like to hear the entire song The Pope by Meryn Cadell, written after Pope John Paul II's (although she does mistakenly call him John Paul III) 1984 visit to Canada (Toronto, specifically), here it is:


  1. The tweets are hilarious! The first is my favourite.

    1. They were! It was hard to pare it down to just this many. I think my favourite is the one about "ED", but they're all pretty great. :)


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