Friday, April 18, 2008

The Top Priest

Pope Benedict XVI is in New York City talking Pope talk & doing Pope stuff. His visit is, of course, "historic."

The basic problem I have with Mr. Ratzinger isn't that he's a conservative pope - liberal popes are rare, or his Colonel Klink accent - unsettling though it is, but that he's a priest. I don't believe in a special class called "priests". I don't believe a priest is what the Roman Catholic Church says he is, or what a priest believes he is. A priest is by definition part-fraud. It's something I've been tempted to blurt out whenever I've met a priest, but I remind myself they're just trained, professional clerics one respects unless they give cause not to.

There's no instructions in the New Testament for the creation of intermediary priests among followers of Jesus or that provide a theological foundation for imbuing subsequent generations of elite initiates with supernatural powers. Even if there were, there's none requiring them to be unmarried & celibate (only a practical suggestion from author Paul) & scant rationale for excluding women.

The subject still makes me a bit testy because I lived for many years with a woman who was in awe of priests when she was no longer a practicing Catholic. It takes more than not going to Mass to unravel it all.

The Office of Pope is something of a metaphysical & historical bamboozle, too. So are a lot of things that aren't worth arguing over anymore. In fact, I'm eligible to be pope. A candidate for pope doesm't have to be a priest much less a cardinal. He can come from anywhere. We have stricter rules for being president. But after election one has to accept priestly ordination & consecration as Bishop of Rome. It just confuses matters to assign the pope additional symbolic duties like serving as antichrist for screwball American protestant preachers. Benedict XVI is a head-of-state, which is how he is received by our government. Benedict's election as pope is comparable to Dick Cheney choosing himself to become President of the United States (like he chose himself to be Vice President) & taking the name Herbert Hoover II. But since Cheney had no hope of running for the office, John McCain was preselected as our next president (George Bush III) & the secret arrangements for succession are currently being finalized. Check for puffs of white smoke from a White House chimney seconds after polls close in Hawaii.

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I thought the pope sounded like Sgt. Schultz. I expected to hear "I know nusing".
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