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I Say “Back to Avignon!”

[ 229 ] February 11, 2013 |

Well, this doesn’t happen every day:

Pope Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who took office in 2005 following the death of his predecessor, said on Monday that he will resign on Feb. 28, the first pope to do so in six centuries.

A profoundly conservative figure whose papacy was overshadowed by sexual abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church, the pope, 85, said that after examining his conscience “before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise” of his position as head of the world’s Roman Catholics.

While there had been questioning about his health and advancing years, his announcement — even by the Vatican’s official account — stunned many. “The pope took us by surprise,” said Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi, who explained that many cardinals were in Rome on Monday for a ceremony at the Vatican and heard the pope’s address.

As a disinterested observer, I have to say that establishment of a norm of retirement for aging, incapacitated popes seems like an altogether good idea. And also, of course, I like the idea of something happening that hasn’t happened for six centuries; makes me feel special.

Comments (229)

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  1. Keith B says:

    Just a hunch, but it could be that the Pontiff wants to influence the choice of his successor.

    • Jameson Quinn says:

      And here I was, starting to feel optimistic.

    • Jeff R. says:

      When Benedict was elected in 2005, only two of the 115 cardinal electors were not appointed by John Paul II. And for upcoming conclave, the all will have been appointed by JP II and Benedict. What more influence could you want?

      Plus both John Paul and Benedict have much more theologically and ideological pure in appointing bishops and cardinals. I don’t think there’s another John XXIII out there.

      (Benedict himself and Cardinal Baum, former archbishop of Washington were created cardinal by Paul VI.)

      • Hogan says:

        It wasn’t all that clear that there was a John XXIII out there in 1958, but since the Vatican has spent the last forty-five years making sure that never happens again, I don’t expect that lightning to strike again in my lifetime, or my great-nieces’.

    • Barry says:

      That’s my bet.

      • expatchad says:

        But why hasn’t it occured to anyone that his physician might have diagnosed a late stage terminal illness from which he will soon succunb? He might not want to compound his death by announcing that. If I were in his position, I would not.

        • Left_Wing_Fox says:

          It occurred to me. Both Steve Jobs and Canadian NDP leader Jack Layton were dead within a month of stepping down due to health concerns. I would not be surprised at all if the same happened here.

    • laslo says:

      Already happened. PJII already stacked the deck with cons like himself and Benny before he croaked. Next sets of candidates for popenführer will likely be right wingers. And probably non-Italians.

  2. Jameson Quinn says:

    At least it gives some hope for the SCOTUS.

    • Richard says:

      If only. I have a case in federal court where we’ve been assigned to a 89 year old judge, a judge who was appointed to the bench by LBJ and one who. to put it charitably, is not one of the shining lights of the federal bench. He will be on the bench until he dies and theres nothing anybody can do about it.

  3. Malaclypse says:

    I’ve been trying, and failing, to come up with a joke about the torch being passed to a new generation, one that didn’t have the chance to serve in the Hitler Youth.

  4. mark f says:

    But is Gov. Christie too fat to be pope?

  5. Warren Terra says:

    Good riddance to a truly terrible person. Sadly, he and his predecessors have probably ensured that his successor will be at least as bad.

    • Bijan Parsia says:

      I’m kinda hopin he’s trying to avoid being indicted while pope.

      (Yes yes, I know it’s not where near probable, but I can hope.)

      • Cody says:

        CAN you be indicted as a Pope. What country would do it? Wouldn’t the Vatican have to indict him?

        I’m pretty ignorant on the machinations of the Vatican, but I was under the impression they were completely independent. I always assumed he was kind of a dictator with a sort-of parliament overseeing him.

    • c u n d gulag says:

      Yes, they all want a Pope who’ll still kick around those modernizing DFH’s from Vatican II – even though most of them are long dead.
      Catholic Libtards!

      Hell, they’re still pissed-off at Martin Luther, and it’s only been, what, a little under 500 years since he nailed his “95 Theses” on that door?

      • Scott P. says:

        Don’t forget the Orthodox Schism!

      • burritoboy says:

        We shouldn’t forget that Ratzinger was himself one of the DFH’s from Vatican II.

      • expatchad says:

        Not too fond of Henry VIII either.

        • stickler says:

          Well, to be fair, they did award Henry the title of “Defender of the Faith” for that anti-Luther pamphlet he wrote in the 1520s. And then Henry goes and joins the Reformation, and doesn’t have the common courtesy to return the title. The horse-faced Germans now sitting in Buckingham Palace are still using it, too!

          • expatchad says:

            Cranmer didn’t do to well from it all.

            • stickler says:

              He did quite well, up until the last couple of years of his life.

              Plus, he got to be a star of Foxe’s _Martyrs_ bestseller. And, he’s the lead author of the _Book of Common Prayer_. Foundation of modern English, baby!

              (Sucks to be burned at the stake, sure, but come on.)

              • expatchad says:

                Seems to have been afflicted with a sort of inverse Somatoparaphrenia where he blamed his right hand for his troubles and toasted it first….

  6. c u n d gulag says:

    There’s a tawdry sex-joke here (is there any other kind?), but I think I’ll leave it alone.

    Any chance for a more Liberal Pope – one who’s less concerned about sex, both hetero and homo, and lady parts, and more concerned about teaching Christ’s message of peace and love?

    Also on who might decide to really come down on the past sexual abuses by the Priests and laity?

    I’ll do the SATSQ’s myself, thank you!

    • rea says:

      Any chance for a more Liberal Pope – one who’s less concerned about sex, both hetero and homo, and lady parts, and more concerned about teaching Christ’s message of peace and love?

      Well, there’s always the chance of a miracle . . .

    • Warren Terra says:

      Once in a while a Republican hack appoints a John Paul Stevens without realizing what exactly they’re getting. But Ratzi and his predecessor paid special attention to packing the college of cardinals with extreme conservatives, ultramontanes, and outright nutters – so I wouldn’t hold out too much hope.

    • NonyNony says:

      Any chance for a more Liberal Pope – one who’s less concerned about sex, both hetero and homo, and lady parts, and more concerned about teaching Christ’s message of peace and love?

      Let’s put it this way – the guys who are picking the next pope were all elevated to the position of “being the guys who get to pick the next pope” by either John Paul II or Benedict XVI. All of them. And Benedict was the former head of the Inquisition (sorry “Office of the Doctrine of the Faith”), so he knows how to sniff out wrongthought in the Church.

      So yeah there’s a chance – we live in a probabilistic universe after all. But you probably have a better chance of being struck by a meteor while holding a winning lottery ticket and getting a phone call from [insert favorite movie star here] begging you for a date than we have of getting a pope who is more concerned about peace and love than about sex and politics.

    • Left_Wing_Fox says:

      Unfortunately, the trend last time was to support the growing parts of Catholicism, which followed the much more regressive beliefs. We’re probably much more likely to see an ultra-conservative desi or african Pope than a liberal one.

    • TribalistMeathead says:

      At this point the best you could hope for would be a Pope who doesn’t make it his main goal to undo Vatican II.

    • expatchad says:

      Any chance for a more Liberal Pope – one who’s less concerned about sex, both hetero and homo, and lady parts, and more concerned about teaching Christ’s message of peace and love?

      Absolutely none whatever. Divine airborne pork is a much greater liklihood.

  7. Mrs Tilton says:

    He never did fully recover from that fight with Yoda.

    [Yes, of course that's stolen. I shall go on stealing it at every opportunity.]

  8. rea says:

    Of course, by propehcy, the next pope will be the last one . . .

  9. Kathleen says:

    Too bad he can’t use the excuse “wants to spend more time with his family”.

  10. Decrease Mather says:

    ESPN is reporting that Lovie Smith is set to interview for the job.

  11. Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq says:

    Next on Politico: How will the new papal election influence Hillary Clinton’s chances in 2016.

  12. DocAmazing says:

    Smart move. There are a number of scandals reaching critical mass, and having the background Ratzi does (Inquisition, Hitlerjugend) isn’t helpful for PR purposes. Next guy will have a Simon-pure background.

  13. Malaclypse says:

    This is good news for John McCain.

  14. Winchester says:

    God bless him.

    I’m grateful that this Pope made clear that Vatican II never actually forbade the saying of the Tridentine Mass.

    Novus Ordo Mass is a satanic-inspired heresy aimed at destroying the Church by tearing it into utter chaos, ripping people away from the Eucharist, and ultimately resulting in people being lost eternally to hell.
    I love the Church, always will. I don’t agree with Novus Ordo; I HATE it, but I hate it the way a husband hates the cancer that’s killing his wife. He still loves his wife; he would never leave her because her body is riddled with cancer. He might even love his wife more than before, seeing her attack from the cancer. He would want to fight the cancer — anything to get rid of the cancer and bring his wife back to full health and vigor.

    The Church has cancer. Bad. Fully metastasized, all over-type cancer. It’s socialist-homosexualism, and the cancer was first observed and diagnosed in 1968. I fully intent to cling to the Bride of Christ and fight the cancer. I should never suggest to anybody to abandon his own parish nor the Church. The cancer ain’t Her Body; it’s just an invading infection.

    And Ratzinger was a good doctor.

    Thank you for your service.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Don’t ever change.

    • Alan Tomlinson says:

      Jesus is love.

      His followers, not so much.


      Alan Tomlinson

    • Dave S. says:

      You know, the people behind you were hoping for a bit of that Communion wine.

    • UberMitch says:

      What’s the Latin word for pancakes?

    • FLRealist says:

      …the way a husband hates the cancer that’s killing his wife. He still loves his wife; he would never leave her because her body is riddled with cancer.

      Huh. You haven’t met the husbands my friends have had.

    • josephus says:

      Wait, the cancer is an infection? So, do I take antibiotics or chemo for my brimming over solshulizt-buttsekshualizm? Inquiring minds (and stricken souls) want to know!

    • wjts says:

      Dry those eyes, bunky – the last pope Benedict who resigned his office (Benedict IX) came back to become pope again not once but twice! Maybe Benedict XVI can use his time away from the papacy to develop a cure for Ecclesiastic Socialist-Homosexualism Satan Cancer.

    • wengler says:

      You need to find a place deep in Siberia where you can practice your religion freely, like that Old Believer fellow mentioned a couple weeks back.

    • The Dark Avenger says:

      Yep, those kids who played guitars at St Patricks’ Cathedral in San Jose, CA, in 1968, were in fact the vanguard of a cancerous spread of ideas like women should control their own bodies and homosexuals aren’t to be despised and told to remain celibate.

      Thanks for pointing that out for us, Winchy.

    • Murc says:

      I’m grateful that this Pope made clear that Vatican II never actually forbade the saying of the Tridentine Mass.

      I like how you start off with something moderately sane (if a congregation wants to go old-school with Mass, I don’t see a problem with that) to fake us out before going full crazy on us.

      Novus Ordo Mass is a satanic-inspired heresy aimed at destroying the Church by tearing it into utter chaos, ripping people away from the Eucharist, and ultimately resulting in people being lost eternally to hell.

      Yeah, because how dare the Mass be conducted in a language people can understand! That’s AWFUL. The laypeople might actually become more fully engaged with the church, and then where would we be?

      I’m genuinely curious; any of the other masses satanic-inspired, or just the latest one? The Catholic Church has been tinkering with the thing for over 1500 years; which versions are satanic inspired and which aren’t?

      • expatchad says:

        I’m fond of Sarum rite, but then I am Anglican.

      • JoyfulA says:

        Well, it did result in Charismatic Catholics, speaking in tongues, so no one could understand the service. That’s chaos.

      • Cody says:

        Seems like someone has read too much Eragon. Latin isn’t the ancient language or something like it. Why should it matter what tongue someone worships God in?

        Seems like he can probably “speak” English.

      • Winchester says:

        Novus Ordo is less about language than about the priest facing the people rather than Christ.

        That’s the problem.

        I did explain it in details earlier.

        • Malaclypse says:

          Novus Ordo is less about language than about the priest facing the people rather than Christ.

          That’s the problem.

          That was Satan’s Big Idea?

          • Winchester says:

            the priest is denying the real presence of Christ in the Tabernacle by the mere fact of having his back on it during the entire mass

            as a result, the mass devolved into a show, with the priest as the star.

            it cut the attention, the focal point of the Mass, from Christ to the priest

            • Malaclypse says:

              The priest is, per your Iron Age Mythology, facing the Transubstatiated Flesh of the Living Christ, rather than a mere image. Why do you deny the Miracle of the Mass? There is a word for Catholics who deny Transubstantiation, Dagchester, and that word is Protestant.

              • Winchester says:

                What are you talking about? I’m not denying anything. I was only explaining to you that the biggest damage of Novus Ordo was to shift the position of the priest during Mass, with the priest facing the people rather than the Tabernacle, even after Consecration.

              • expatchad says:

                Not to be picky, but Lutherans have consubstantiation and variants, which are the same thing (The Real Presence) and they are the Original Protestants. The Augustinians have Apostolic Succession.

                • Anonymous says:

                  Consubstantiation is quasi-Lutheran at best. Luther just didn’t care for metaphor (or Aristotle): if Jesus said This is my body, not This is a symbol of my body, well all right then, was Martin’s take.

                • stickler says:

                  Speaking as a Lutheran, I have to point out that the Hussites (Unitas Fratrum, and their modern inheritors, the Moravian Church) claim, with some justification*, that they were the original “Protestants.”

                  * = by recourse to history, not Faith. Hee.

            • Lurker says:

              This is only true if there is a tabernacle behind the altar. In the St. Peter’s Cathedral, the main altar is in the middle, and the Pope is facing the congregation in Pontifical masses.

              As a Lutheran, I don’t really have a dog in this fight, as we don’t use tabernacles. However, in the Finnish Evangelical-Lutheran Church, it has become the norm to move the main altar in the present Catholic fashion so that the priest is behind it, facing the congregation throughout the mass. Only in old churches, where the altar may be heavy (e.g. same masonry with the wall), the priest alternates his direction, facing the congregation when addressing them and facing the altar when praying.

              I find the old-style practice more pedagogical, as even a small child can understand: “Now the priest is talking to God, now, to me.”

              • expatchad says:

                My Anglican dogs point out that we started using the new arrangement BEFORE Rome. If Winchester considered the Anglicans to be Christians, he could blame us worse.

                Fortunately, he thinks anyone not Roman to be trash, so we are thankfully excluded from his divine approbation in matters liturgical.

      • Winchester says:

        Also: Novus Ordo priests have all but abandoned the Sacrament of Confession, or Penance.

        Everything is being done to convince the people that the only sin is
        “intolerance” and that Jesus is an effete little puppy — like your neutered pet dog.

        • The Dark Avenger says:

          Funny, St John the Baptist Church, an alleged Catholic Church, is offering confessions, so it seems they haven’t abandoned it yet:

          Confessions: In church Mon thru Fri: 7:15 to 7:45 a.m. 11:45 a.m. – 12: 15 p.m.
          In the parish office reconciliation room 1:30 – 5:00 p.m.
          Sat: 11:30 12:30 p.m., 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.

          Jesus is an effete little puppy — like your neutered pet dog.

          Actually, some of us take Jesus seriously, as with Elvis, it’s some of the fan base like you that has us on edge.

          Speaking of Jesus, can you tell me where in the Bible he came out against gay marriage, abortion, etc? Cause I can’t find anything about that, but I can find the following in Matthew 25, which doesn’t seem important to your version of Jesus:

          34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
          35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
          36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
          37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
          38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
          39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
          40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

          41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
          42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
          43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
          44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
          45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
          46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

          • stickler says:

            A Christian might also be tempted to ask for a Scriptural basis for calling confession a “sacrament.” Go ahead and look: it ain’t in Scripture.

            (“For we know that Popes and Councils have erred…”)

        • DrDick says:

          I can see your concern as I am certain you have much to confess and are in need of heavy penance. Sadly, according to Matthew 25, you are going to hell anyway.

    • sibusisodan says:

      This is beautiful. If only because, in your retelling of the ‘church as bride’ image, you’ve put yourself in the Jesus role. Such lowliness.

    • STH says:

      Why the fuck would you think we’d be interested in your Pope wanking, Winchy?

    • DrDick says:

      This one is special for Dagchester (or is it Winchney?).

  15. EliHawk says:

    Democrats are already freaking out that Scott Brown may run in papal special election; beg Benedict to reconsider.

    • NonyNony says:

      I know it’s snark, but Scott Brown would actually be an improvement over any of the people the cardinals are likely to actually elect.

  16. Steve LaBonne says:

    I’ll leave it to St. Peter to sum up Ratzinger’s accomplishments in office:

    “Quelli ch’usurpa in terra il luogo mio,
    il luogo mio, il luogo mio, che vaca
    ne la presenza del Figliuol di Dio,

    fatt’ ha del cimitero mio cloaca
    del sangue e de la puzza; onde’l perverso
    che cadde di qua sù, là giù si placa.”

  17. Winchester says:

    “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

  18. Darkrose says:

    Chris Hayes tweeted: “Call me crazy, but I think the next Pope should be someone who didn’t help cover up child rape.Tho,that may disqualify every single cardinal”

    Sadly, he’s probably right.

  19. rea says:

    I’m surprised that JOP isn’t holding forth on the likelihood that Cardinal Turkson of Ghana will be the next pope. (The lesson of John Paul II and, in contrast, Benedict, being that only a pope with an appealing personal storyline can generate the personal popularity needed to push hyprconservative theology . . .)

    (And note also–his first name is Peter, consistent with the “Last Pope” prophecy linked above. . .)

    • commie atheist says:

      Don’t they take a new name as Pope anyway? I’m with the people who want to move beyond the John Pauls and want the next Pope to be George Ringo.

      • Hogan says:

        While the NY Times was shut down by a strike in 1978 (when JPI died), George Plimpton and some friends put out a parody issue that included a story announcing that the new pope had decided to call himself John Paul John Paul I, thus becoming the first pope to take the names of three of his predecessors.

      • Jon Hendry says:

        The next could be Pope Eggs Benedict I

    • Donald Trump says:

      I’m not satisfied Turkson is a Catholic – he sounds like some kinda Muslim. I’ll give $5m to charity if Turkson releases his long form Baptismal certificate.

  20. Carbon Man says:

    I don’t really have a much time for organized religion. Church services to me seem like nothing but a musical performance/fashion show with some hocus-pocus thrown in.

    I will say this for the Roman Catholic Church, though. It sure does make liberals hit the roof in anger. For that, I salute them.

  21. Carbon Man says:

    It will be funny to see liberals try to savagely attack a black Pope, though. Everytime they do I guess Catholics can take a page out of the Obama Playbook and scream RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACIIIIIST! whenever a criticism, no matter how mild, is made. Also, remember to look for certain “code words”, like uh, “Chicago”. Cause that’s RAAACIIISSST for some reason.

    • commie atheist says:

      Certainly, no “liberal” has ever dared attack Clarence Thomas, savagely or otherwise, eh, sweetness? What a transparent buffoon you are.

      • NonyNony says:

        Why is Carbon Man so funny and Winchester so scary?

        I can’t figure it out. They’re both nutty as walnut pancakes, but Carbon Man makes me laugh every single time while Chester makes me want to lock the doors.

    • Frank Booth says:

      Yes, no longer will popes be allowed to say “Chicago” without incurring the almighty wrath of liberals. It’s a world gone mad, I tell you.

    • sharculese says:

      It goes without saying that wingnuts will respond to criticism with frivolous non sequiturs, though?

  22. MikeN says:

    Carbon Man has a point. The next Pope will (probably) be an African precisely so that when people start talking about equality for women and gays (and gay women) the conservatives can start screaming about racist liberals trying to impose their Western secular values on Godly upstanding Third World traditional cultures.

  23. commie atheist says:

    For some reason, I keep wanting to say, in a Glenda the Good Witch voice, “Are you a Good Pope? Or a Bad Pope?”

    That is all.

  24. Winchester says:

    For the record, I’ve waged a tiny $333 on Cardinal Arinze to become the next Pope, with Ladbrokes, at 7:1.

    Yes, a black Cardinal.

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