Upon the news this morning first broken by Reuters that Joseph Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict XVI, is the first pope in 600 years to resign from his post, notice the instant and predictable whirling dervish swirl of the news media.
Does the Pope have Alzheimer’s? Did he consult anyone on this monumental decision, having come at such a surprise? Will he be replaced by a black Pope?
Let the parlor game begin!
For certain, Ratzinger is doing something his predecessor certainly should have done, taking himself out of the game before the world has to see him drooling all over himself as his physical capacity withers away.
As is often the case, the problem is that the news media act no different than do cliques of popular kids in high school. They place public figures such as the Pope on a tremendously high pedestal, despite insights and information that demonstrate a complete lack of worthiness for such treatment.
Let’s not forget that Ratzinger presided over a generation of policies that secretly tolerated thousands of serial sex offenders in the ranks of the priesthood. Bishops and cardinals in this recalcitrant, monarchical organizational structure have gone on in their positions with barely a reprimand from the Vatican bureaucracy that still tolerates such filth among them. He has more recently been responsible for financial mismanagement at the Vatican Bank as well.
So it comes as no surprise that the media would gin up the speculation about the cause of Ratzinger’s decision or who may be his predecessor when the world’s cardinals join in Rome in a few weeks to blow smoke up our pipes once again.
This is a familiar ritual – meaning the fawning of the news media and not the meeting of the college of cardinals – that is comparable in other aspects of society. The hypocrisy of our heroes in sports, government, and Hollywood are all aided and abetted by the news media that thrive on elitism and cultural rituals such that they are willing to look the other way when the elite are caught red-handed in controversy and crimes.
Sure there are those moments when the media recognize a chance to sell newsprint and airtime with the latest scandals from these sectors, but they quickly return to their habit of rising up some of the most despicable power brokers that society has to offer. Worst among them may be the leadership of the Catholic Church based on the revelations of sex crimes and cover-up of the past two decades.
Now we have to tolerate the news media falling prey to their worst tendencies once again this month and as a new pontiff takes over next month, who will also have less and less influence over a world body that decides for itself what is moral and what is not. At the least, let’s hope that more people will see them for what they really are – the news media and church officials – and let their decline in influence wither away as surely as has Joseph Ratzinger’s mental and physical capacity.