There is a vast amount humour surrounding the impending resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on the internet right now. I won't join in the comedy. My commentary is of a more serious kind.
I'm inclined to ask: at a time when people around the world are experiencing more and more movement towards democracy and equality, and where monarchy is becoming an anachronism, isn't it time that this archaic system was changed?
I am inclined to join the thousands of people who want Ratzinger to be indicted for his complicity in child abuse, as discussed in this new documentary from HBO.
Could the Catholic Church not at least make a show of moving forward into the 21st century by appointing someone elected by its congregants to the position of President of the Vatican? Not a theologian, but someone who would run the place as a business, for that is what it really is. Would it really be a terrible thing for the Church to show that it actually cares about its people by using the vast amounts of money that come its way to improve their lives rather than to perpetuate the nonsense of refusing to allow birth control and condom use among them?
I'm also not going to joke about the ridiculous outdated designer fashions in which the clerics of the church parade about, like models on a runway, except to say that the cost of these silk and brocade frocks would most certainly fund a few meals for the starving believers in Africa, and South America. Authority figures don't need to dress up to show their authority. They could carry a lot more authority by demonstrating that they are actually in touch with the reality of AIDS and population growth using the facts of these problems, and dressed in plain business suits and ties.
I would love to see the Vatican turned into a place of education, rather than the palace that houses a monarch whose position has no place in a world where people starve, but that's not going to happen in my lifetime. However, this resignation could herald a change in the Catholic Church. It could be a chance for them to actually declare an intention to stop the abuse of children completely and to bring previous offenders to the law courts. It could announce that the position of Pope is to change to a political one, and that, henceforth, its followers would be allowed to control the size of their families, that it will recognise that people have sex without being married, and that they will accept that sometimes commitments to relationships are not according to the traditions of the religion that spawned the birth of their organisation 2000 years ago.
Or is that just another dream that can't be fulfilled, because people enjoy being fooled by authority figures. Otherwise why would they still believe that an old man who lives in a palace, that is a country in its own right, has the right to dictate to them about every aspect of their lives, simply because he claims to have direct contact to a deity that his organisation reworked from that invented by ancient goat herders who thought the earth was flat.