Friday, 15 March 2013

A new Pope. Why the fuss?

My good cousin Janet asked this question on Facebook:  Am I the only one wondering what all the fuss is about this new Pope?
No Janet, even religious people ask the same question.
Here are my tentative responses.

1.      Whether we like it or not, most people in our world are religious in one way or another.  (Even strident atheism is a religion of sorts)

2.     The Roman Catholic Church is the largest of all organised religions. So when that Church selects a new leader it is not surprising that it makes world news.

3.     The resignation of Pope Benedict and the election of Pope Francis are newsworthy because: 
Benedict retired voluntarily unlike the Pope who resigned 600 years ago -  under pressure!

Pope Francis is the first non-European Pontiff, (though this is a bit of a stretch since he is Italian by his parents and Argentina is the most “European” country on South America).

4.     Lazy reporters do not have much background knowledge about the R.C. Church.   Therefore much of their so called reporting is in fact sheer speculation.  They are “filling air time” (or print space) with incessant chatter.

5.     And it’s always about the “news du jour”.  One day it will be Syria, the next North Korea, the next Queen Elizabeth’s diarrhea or the Duchess of Cambridge’s “bump”.

6.     So “why the fuss?”  Simply because it was the news du jour.  (I check six or seven newspapers from all over the world (on line each day).  They all carry essentially the same international news, and have identical lead stories depending on the day of the week, or the fad of the hour.). But Iask:

a.     Will the new Pope make a difference? Certainly not in doctrine or teaching.  The Roman Church claims (unhistorically) that it was founded by Jesus Christ, and given a sacred deposit of unchangeable truth.  Even the much vaunted Pope John XXIII did not  attempt to  change an iota of doctrine.

b.     Perhaps in emphasis:  John XXII and the Vatican Council did not change the doctrine of the Church, but they encouraged Catholics to think of the Church as “the people of God”, and of Orthodox and Protestant Christians as “separated brethren”.

c.      Please pay no attention to the commentators who speculate that under Pope Francis there will be changes in teaching about celibacy, the role of women. etc. That simply will not happen.  

But "Papa Frankie"  may well try to encourage the Church to be a more humble, modest and serving body. 

That will be better than nothing.


  1. Hi, I was googling brethren in Bristol for a class I'm taking on healing and I found your blog - in particular the 1 Feb 2012 entry where you mention your friend Eric. Eric Pavey is my Dad :) I live in Vancouver at the moment where I'm studying at a liberal theology college. I just thought I would say hello. It's a small world!
    This is my blog, if you're interested:

  2. There is a school of thought in the U.K. & possibly elsewhere, that he jumped before he was pushed. I.E. there were skeletons in his closet that were about to surface had he not walked. I can't believe the R.C.'s would behave in such a way!!