First, allow me be the very last to bring news that the pope has announced his retirement. This is what happens when I write all of my stuff the day before. The given explanation is that because of his age, he’s less equipped to handle the constant travel that is expected of someone in his position.
Speaking to the BBC from his home in Regensburg in Germany, Georg Ratzinger said his brother’s resignation was part of a “natural process”.
“When he got to the second half of his 80s, he felt that his age was showing and that he was gradually losing the abilities he may have had and that it takes to fulfill this office properly,” he said.
Speculation is obviously running rampant about the “real” motivation behind his stepping down before God gave him his eternal pink slip, since the last resignation was almost 600 years ago. Most theories focus on the persistent child abuse scandals that have been openly plaguing the church for the last decade or so. My personal opinion is that it’s probably a bit of both the official story with a little conspiracy thrown in. At his age, he probably doesn’t have the energy to run a church that has become increasingly at odds with its members, handle the aftermath of past and ongoing child abuse issues, and travel the world delivering benedictions. (Though I think you can do the last part on Skype now. Does trans-substantiation work over the Internet?)
Thanks to my friend Rich for the article below, showing that there are some Catholic priests who are able to successfully distinguish the secular world and the religious world:
In a tiny village in Brittany, France, the mayor is also the local Catholic priest. As a mayor, Elie Geffray will soon be officiating over same-sex unions even though the Catholic Church opposes gay marriage and adoption. He notes that France is a secular democracy and that allows Muslims, Catholics, Protestants and atheists to live together. And says he believes the Catholic Church made a mistake by getting involved in the gay marriage debate.
Wow. Usually I talk about how institutions like marriage or holidays like Christmas have one foot in the secular world and the other tin the religious … but this guy’s living the metaphor. As a Catholic priest, I wouldn’t expect him to officially support same sex marriages nor perform them in his church regardless of his personal position on its morality. As the mayor, though, he has far greater leniency since the state isn’t (or at least shouldn’t be) beholden to the Church.
“Civil and religious marriages are completely separate in France because of our doctrine of secularism, and the church should deal only with religious issues and leave political questions for citizens.”
I’m not sure at this point how many things I’ve suggested get etched in stone and then airlifted to the steps of the Capitol Building, but this should be among them. It won’t necessarily change people’s minds, but if lawmakers acted according to this rule, we’d have far less legislation that looks like it came straight from 13th century Europe.
The funny part is, there’s still opposition to both same sex marriage and same sex adoption (the latter being a tougher sell). The reasoning given in the article points to more of an appeal to tradition …
Everyone feels that way around here, says Philippe Ladais. We think things should stay the way they’ve always been. Polls show 40 percent of French Catholics support gay marriage, as does 63 percent of the general population, but far fewer people support same-sex adoption.
… and a fear of the unknown effects such an arrangement would have on children growing up in it.
There are many big families with children, parents, great parents, and there are big farm, and they all work together. I think they want to [conserve] their tradition, yes.
I feel encouraged that the word “God” wasn’t mentioned as a reason for their opposition. This means that studies showing no difference in child development between same sex and opposite sex households – especially in a secular country – have a chance of creating a measurable improvement in the public acceptance of same-sex adoption over time. With the legalization of same sex marriage, the generation growing up now will simply look at our current treatment of homosexuals as “the way it’s always been”, and be less averse to some additional, incremental change.