The gist of the response from atheists and the hardly-religious masses across Twitter, Facebook and media website comment streams to the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI in two week’s time has been overwhelmingly negative. Actually, the cry of criticism extends from those of other Christian religions and even from Catholics themselves.
The response has been littered with more than a door-hitting-him-on-the-way-out attack of his character, the Church in general and, of course, how evil religion is because of the things it “makes” people believe and do that other people don’t agree with.
You have to wonder whether the remaining religiously pious individuals of the world would similarly slam current athiest ”leader” (for lack of a better word) Richard Dawkins if he were to push up daisies. If anything, I’m in awe of the amount of time people are willing to devote to giving Pope Benedict and his particular collection of Roman Catholics a piece of their mind.
The truth is Pope Benedict XVI resigned not because of health reasons but because he failed to meet his own expectations and goals listed when he was hired. Seven years ago he was vowing to erase corruption, tame the Byzantine Vatican bureaucracy and bring the Curia together into a well-oiled machine. He also ambitiously vowed ”to launch the re-evangelization of Europe“. Instead, he has not been successful in his decision to ignore the ever-present afterglow of the sex-abuse scandals which overtook the world in the early to mid 2000. This has cost the Church more credibility than ever.
Like a CEO of any great global enterprise, if you can’t deliver, if you’ve lost your credibility, you must step down for the good of the shareholders. In this case, the shareholders are disappointed, shamed Catholics out there in the world who, despite their faith in the continued existence and operation of the Roman Catholic Church, feel ashamed, feel like their religion is becoming un-cool, feel like they’re clinging onto a religion that is failing to inspire.
In other words, the Roman Catholic Church is a bit like the Apple of the religion world right now. It doesn’t just need a leader, it needs a visionary.
That said, I do not agree with the all-out bitterness that I’ve been hearing spouted across social networks in the wake of Benedict’s decision. Here is one example:
He is a deluded, bigoted megalomaniac who is so arrogant he thinks he has the right to tell other people how to run their lives. His stance on condom use has caused the death and suffering of many thousand, his covering up of sexual abuse of children has caused immense suffering and death as has his stance on many other things. Unfortunately they will replace him with another deluded, bigoted megalomaniac who will continue his legacy of causing suffering and death.
I think declaring something like that is overkill, inaccurate and unfair.
Whether you’re Roman Catholic or not, whether you agree with 100% of their beliefs or not, they deserve some respect:
They’re the longest-reigning organisation in the history of mankind, and although a long history like that is of course marred and dotted with controversy, scandal, evil and corruption, the bottom line is that predominantly the Roman Catholic Popes are a body that stands for an overall good moral compass.
I think everybody should care, and see this resignation as a positive step for the church, a chance to modernise and inject a new enthusiasm into those waning of its faith, to be heralded as a force for good, for progress and for overall morality. To have the courage to take responsibility for its past faults and deeds and stand up to account: thus returning to the glowing example it has – at times – been for peace and prosperity.
The day the papal reign ends forever will be a day when mankind cannot tolerate much of anything that isn’t politically correct to a nanny-state degree, nor stand for anything as an independent body lest the swarm of the world override you with criticism that you’re doing it wrong.