I’m All Poped Out – Enough Already!

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Fr...

Almost as soon as the white smoke rose at the Vatican yesterday, the wags of social media went into overdrive with their quips and jokes, some flippant and/or satirical, some perhaps a little close to the bone or bordering upon sick but all mostly humorous…

One that (sadly) struck a chord given recent events, and probably one that the church would undoubtedly like to distance themselves from went along the following lines… “Vatican Media Dept. Announcement – The smoke signals that you will see have the following meanings – White Smoke = A new Pope has been elected – Black Smoke = Further Computer Hard-Drives have yet to be destroyed before an announcement can be made (there is likely to be some delay).”

Religion has always been a favoured topic for humour. Some of the finest exponents of the genre included the late comic Dave Allen (who described himself as a ‘practicing atheist’) and Billy Connolly the Scottish comedian, musician and actor. The American stand-up comedian and social critic George Carlin famously said “religion is bullshit” and consequently annoyed many Bible Belt residents in the USA. The Papacy has never been immune from ridicule.

But jokes aside, I have to say the (expected) media scramble to produce the best and quickest “in-depth analysis” [sic] meant that much of it quickly also became inane and superfluous. When the news broke my cynical head kicked in; has an Argentinian been elected because of the Falkland Islands referendum? I would like to think not but stranger things have happened. But with the quantity of both relevent and irrelevant views (aka trash) in the first few hours after the news broke, by 7am this morning I was All Poped Out!

The announcement of a new Papacy is undoubtedly a monumental event for the world’s Catholics however; with increasing secularism and diversity of prominent religious belief, at least in the developed world, is the election of a new Pope really such an important event?

In addition, since 1970, “Catholicism has seen a global shift southwards and the proportion of Catholics living in Europe has declined” (source BBC) therefore; is this ‘news’ really that important to the remainder of us? I doubt it.

There are an estimated 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world, according to Vatican figures. More than 40% of the world’s Catholics live in Latin America – but Africa has seen the biggest growth in Catholic congregations in recent years…(bbc.co.uk)

Perhaps the impact upon world politics is the important factor here? But many people would suggest that politics has no place in religion, or vice versa, I tend to agree. But as ever, small ‘p’ politics are involved in almost every walk of life, why should religion be any different?

So Pope Francis has begun his first day at the helm of the Catholic Church; I think he must be considering his new role with some trepidation. Amid a testing schedule his Papacy will be no small task, especially (but not exclusively) in light of the recent controversy over the conduct of Cardinal Keith O’Brien within the Catholic Church (see here).

The BBC have reported that the Pope undoubtedly faces many and varied challenges and I would agree. The relatively speedy election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio may have taken much of the (interested) world by surprise (see here) and that could well be a major factor driving so much of the analysis regarding his appointment.

To be honest I don’t really give a stuff about who is or who isn’t at the top of the Catholic Church, or any other bloody church for that matter. I have no wish to be disparaging about the personal religious beliefs of anyone and I would always respect them however; over the centuries religion (or its interpretation by individuals), has probably been the route cause of just as many (if not more) deaths than lives and souls that have been saved. And all that before you even start to examine the myriad cases of hypocrisy and do as I say not as I do leadership that has been evident within religious circles.

Despite my ‘pontificating’ I do however wish Jorge Bergoglio all the best in his new job. I’ll finish with the hope that he possesses all the courage and conviction of his beliefs along with the much-needed skills to do that which is right for his followers and just as importantly, the remainder of non-catholic humanity. It’s a tall order for any individual who is expected to fit the dogma of Papal Infallibility.

The election of a new Pope may have been news yesterday but now it’s just that… Yesterday’s News!

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