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Pope Ben

First of all, I didn't have a cardinal in this fight. I vaguely thought it would be kind of cool if the pope were a black dude, but beyond that I didn't really care. I don't have to; it's not my religion.

But the people around me obviously care, some intently. There's a cluster of people here at work, presumably all Catholic (although one of them I know for a fact barely believes in God), who are talking about the new pope, and the mood is funereal. One girl is actually weeping.

Why are they so upset? As near as I can tell, it's because the new guy doesn't share their liberal, Northeastern sensibilities. They're upset because the conclave didn't elect someone who supports birth control, or abortion, or women priests, or gay rights, or a cross dresser, or a Muslim, or Michael Moore, or God knows what.

Reality check, people: None of those things was ever going to happen. None of them. Ever. Let's not pretend that there was any suspense surrounding the outcome here. And guess what? The next pope after this one isn't going to be Hans Kung or Bishop Spong either. If you're really that upset, maybe now would be a good opportunity to ask yourself why you're a Catholic in the first place.

Seriously. Look, people's views and opinions change over time. Mine certainly have, and I have not hesitated to adjust my political and/or religious affiliations accordingly. Why would you continue to self-identify with an organization with which you disagree so vehemently on so many fundamental issues? Yet many self-described Catholics continue to do exactly that. Why? Are they all brainwashed?

Let's imagine for a moment that through the baggage of my upbringing I considered myself to be a Democrat (ha ha!) Let's also imagine that I cried and moaned and beat my breast every time my party nominated a candidate who didn't support the flat tax, or Social Security privatization, or wasn't a member of the NRA. Let's imagine I wept when John Kerry was nominated, and went on Zoloft when Howard Dean took over the DNC. You guys would probably be patient for a while, but eventually you'd grab me by my shoulders, shake me violently, and be like, "Dude! You're not a Democrat!!"

So for all my depressed Catholic friends out there, I have two bits of advice.

First, why not at least consider a different church? You don't have to commit, just investigate. God knows there are tons of Christian churches out there, with such a breathtaking diversity of beliefs that you're almost sure to find one that's a pretty good match for you.

Second, cheer up. I'm sure things could be worse. However terrible this new guy may be, I'm sure he'll never be as bad as Stephen VII, who had the corpse of his predecessor, Pope Formosus, exhumed and placed on trial. The corpse (perhaps not surprisingly) was pronounced "guilty," and the sentence meted out involved severing three of his decaying fingers and tossing his body into the Tiber River.


It must have been a culture shock to the rank and file Catholics who were incessantly polled by our media during this interpapal period. Since the days of Dick Morris and triangulation, Americans seem to think that if a majority of us feel one way, then that is the only outcome acceptable.

The college of cardinals doesn't care a rat's ass what American catholics think in all honesty.

As a retired Episcopalian, I am glad that this whole matter is now concluded. A friend of mine told me that approximately 64 million of the US is catholic - I am assuming that includes Greek and Russian orthodox as well. That means that over 224 million of us didn't really care whomever the cardinals selected.

Sorry to be so brusque but that's just the way I feel about this event which was verging on a circus with the breathless coverage.

One last: ABC radio had a story claiming that Papal experts were surprised with the choice.

Now, come on here! There hasn't been a new pope chosen sin the 1970s. WHAT exactly have these 'experts' done during that time to earn such a title?

Dude, you can't ask a Catholic to check out other faiths....are you kidding?

I was hoping they would give a non-Catholic a shot at being Pope.

Well, Barry, if you ever *do* need me to guest-post, I think we now have a subject other than "pets are cute" that we agree upon.

Religions don't usually hide their rules. You don't like them, you don't have to be that religion. It's true!!

They chose a new pope?

sorry, that was a gratuitously snarky post. Its not that I don't care about the that a new pope was being elected...its just that, well...I don't care because it doesn't concern me.

yes, I understand that the pope represents a world leader, an important player on the world stage, etc. But I'm not catholic. I understand its important for those of that faith, but for me, its interesting to note and not much else. The news media, however, are in withdrawal from not being able to cover continuing Shiavo events and latched onto the pope story as if they were running non-stop papal infomercials. I'm honestly not trying to be disrepectful of someone is deserving of honor and respect. Its just that the constant hype and 24/7 news coverage of this event is enough to drive you bonkers!

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