Oh boy, the Pope is leaving office. Must see TV. Happy happy joy joy!!!!!
Tomorrow, we are going to witness something no one alive has ever seen. A Catholic Pope leaves and goes into retirement. The formal ceremonies, which have already started are something entirely new. The cable news networks already have sent their crack teams to Rome to comment on all the fun and games.
There have been a bunch of diaries here that have demanded things of various cardinals (none of them apparently catholic, not even me) they found odious. So what? Who cares? Well, for one thing, we love royal pomp and except for the British Royal family, the papacy is the only full blown European monarchy around.
Royal/religious ceremonials have entertainment value. Take the Olympics for example: far more people watch the opening ceremonies than any of the individual games. It’s a huge show with a cast of thousands, and it makes for great television. Same with Royal weddings and the Queen’s jubilees, Soldiers in antiquated uniforms marching before and after the Royal one’s horse drawn carriage. It’s even better than the red carpet prior to the Oscars. Woo hoo!
This time we get to see a bunch of old men wearing red frocks and hats and long skirts holding large candlesticks singing Gregorian chants. You can’t beat the Catholic Church for sheer show biz. They’ve got the choreography down pat.
I know, some say that the cardinals are corrupt, and they probably are, and that the former archbishop of LA should follow the lead of the archbishop of Scotland and not show up and he probably should. Even if he does, the sheer majesty of it all blots out any moral misgivings us heathens would have. Like the Oscars or a royal wedding, it’s all about the show.
They have to have the show. When Obama and Biden were sworn in for the second time on January 20th, that’s all the law required. Taking the oath, nothing more. All the pomp and circumstance and parades were completely unnecessary, but, because taking an oath on a Sunday was once considered sinful, they had to do it all over again the next day with all the fun and games. They could have had the whole thing on a Sunday, but tradition is important. Tradition is comforting, and a teensy bit of hypocrisy is a good thing.
radition is important here too, even though the ceremonials aren’t actually that ancient. The current version of the conclave only dates from 1878, and the resignation ceremonies date from tomorrow afternoon. But it will look as if they had been going on from time immemorial, which is what counts. The church is all about artifice and magic.
Priests have magic powers don’tcha know. They can turn matzo and wine into flesh and blood, and can order the supernatural powers to send you to heaven or purgatory even if you’re already destined for hell. Psychiatrists can’t do that. Secular Grief counselors can’t do that! Their new king must be invested with even greater superpowers. What those are, I’m not sure, but the last one sent all the little babies in Limbo and sent them straight to heaven, isn’t that sweet?
Or not. But this is magic here we’re talking about here. Unless they accidently pick a wild-eyed lunatic who declares all Anglicans to be going straight to Hell, reinstate the Spanish Inquisition and the Magdalene laundries, and pulmigates the immaculate conception of POPES, nothing’s going to happen. Things will remain the same and for the most part, he’s going to make a bunch of trips around the world and millions will throng to him and be happy. .. and the Irish will turn atheist.
Which is how it should be.