Just a quick nudge on this chocolate filled Christian holiday.
As you’re chewing down on your Cadbury massed-produced corporate egg, simultaneously somehow indulging in the Pagan festival of fertility and drowning in immense sorrow and regret remembering how Jesus sacrificed himself for all of your wrong-doing, I just wanted to publicly welcome our new Pope to his throne. (He has a throne, right? Or is it just a hat and a big stick?)
Given that the last Pope resigned due to a sex scandal/stunning lack of relevancy, Pope Francis has a big hat to fill. But in a ceremony worthy of prime time reality television, he ascended to highest honour with ease. One day, a seemingly ordinary cardinal, the next, the leader of one of the oldest Christian churches on Earth.
It’s Harry Potter meets The Bachelor. A group of elderly men go and ‘vote’ behind closed doors. I can only imagine the interior of the conclave is something like the Gryffindor Common Room or the room in Willy Wonka’s factory with the chocolate waterfall, Oompa Loompas included. At the end of each day, smoke billows out of the Vatican chimneys. It’s the only time in the entire process that the Vatican publicly communicates with the outside world. It’s an efficient system, and competes with Twitter’s 140 character limit for its simplicity. White smoke, new pope. Black smoke, no new pope.
It’s also worth noting, that in the year 2013, the Catholic Church have done an extraordinary good job on keep pesky women out of the entire process. Given that they’re far too likely to mess up the entire thing with their wiles, unpredictable desires and hair, it’s a matter of divine intervention that they be kept out of the lowest orders of priesthood, let alone voting for a leader to the organisation that many choose to devote their entire life to. Besides, who else is going to make the sandwiches?
The absence of women in the Catholic Church should be celebrated as one of the greatest acts of male stubbornness and ignorance in the entire history of the human race. The sheer amount work that goes into keeping women out isextraordinary. So too is the selective deaf-ness the Church shows towards a myriad of issues. Why is homosexuality a sin, but divorce, which is spoken about in the Bible with far more clarity, so rarely touched on by the Church? Why, when Jesus modeled a life of economic poverty rewarded by spiritual richness, does the Church hold on to mountains of cash? We’ve heard all of these questions before. They go on unanswered.
So you can imagine Rome’s feelings when pink smoke was seen billowing in a relentless cloud over the Vatican. Or can you? Was it relief? Liberation? Or was it fear and anxiety, as the new century lept out at them in vivid hi-lights? Or is it too hopeful of me to think that the great majority of men in that room felt, somewhere in their hearts, shame? Did they ask the God they so adore for forgiveness?
The Women’s Ordination Conference, which has campaigned for women in the Church for well over thirty years, organised the protest and were more than vocal about it.
“The Catholic church should be a healthy and vibrant place with equality, with both men and women called to the priesthood. Jesus did not exclude women. Jesus encouraged women and actively sought to include them,” said Miriam Duignan, Communications coordinator of the association ‘Women can be priests’. “So why do the cardinals who are supposed to represent Jesus, make a point of actively excluding women, of telling them to be quiet? And of criminalising anybody that speaks out in favour of women priests?”