Monday, February 11

So long, and thanks for all the fish

As has been reported widely, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has tendered his resignation, effective 28 February, at which time the College of Cardinals will choose a new pope.  Though not unprecedented, it is the first abdication by a Roman pope since Gregory XII resigned in 1415 because of the Papal Schism and is only the 5th in the history of the Roman church.

In the last year or so, I have noted with some compassion that the Pontiff appeared to be less leading the Church than being led by the church machine (not unlike the waning years of his predecessor, John Paul II).  Considering his closeness to the former pontiff, I cannot help but believe that this trend has gone unnoticed by His Holiness either.  Though I remain adamant in my disagreement with His Holiness in regards to much of his theology and doctrinal applications, my respect for him as a person, an academician and a man of God who has done what he has believed is best has not diminished.

 I chose the title of this post as a reference to the dolphins in Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. It is their farewell note as they abandon their home right before it is destroyed in the name of 'progress'.  Considering the scandals at the Vatican Bank, the slow-moving train wreck that is the clerical paedophilia and cover-up, increasing irrelevance of the church as a moral authority, the rapidly decline of the church in numbers on both sides of the altar (to mention but a few), perhaps Dr. Ratzinger has realised that the time to make an exit is now before the entire edifice crumbles and something new, different and alien to the present generation replaces it.

One of the perks when retiring as CEO of a corporation is that you have a hand in the process of finding a replacement.  Given the Pontiff's address, I would expect that his replacement will be younger, more media and tech-savvy.  Considering his own personal understanding of Church, as well as the culture of the Vatican, I would also expect that the next pope will be as bound to tradition, hierarchy and generally conservative as the current one.

Meanwhile, the machinery of the Vatican continues to chug along, oblivious (or actively denying) the Vogon Destructor fleet in orbit around it.

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