The Catholic Church: is ‘modernity’ really the right word?

The world is reeling from the news broken on Monday morning: Pope Benedict XVI is resigning from his post as head of the Catholic Church. He is the first Pope to resign in 598 years.

Pope two

The news has been extremely controversial, yet I can’t help but feel that what the world is viewing as scandal is simply a really old guy retiring from a job which he is no longer fit to perform. It’s hardly surprising that the reason given for his resignation is old age and ill-health; upon his appointment eight years ago, he was the oldest Pope in 300 years and turns 86 in April.

Plenty of people have been hailing this as a sign of the Catholic Church’s move towards modernity because, of course, the Catholic Church is well-known for its progressiveness. It seems highly unlikely that change is going to come about by appointing a different old guy as leader of an institution that has been under scrutiny in the last few years for its archaic attitudes towards issues such as birth control and homosexuality, as well various sexual abuse scandals. None of those tipped to take on the job offer anything particularly new.

The highlight of this scandalous news has to be the internet’s reaction. Various tweets and articles have had me chuckling for hours, my favourite being a fake Twitter account for Benedict XVI simply tweeting “cba” a few hours after the announcement was made. The Guardian’s Dean Burnett has composed an amusing application for the papacy, addressing his personal statement “Dear Sir/Madam/Holy Ghost”, a technique I think I might adopt for all future job applications.

I can’t say that the question of the future of the leadership of the Catholic Church is one that will be keeping me awake at night. I react to its archaic practices the same way one might react to a racist grandparent: roll your eyes and tweet about it when they say something particularly ridiculous.


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