Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Time to Pontificate

Of course we bloggers pontificate every day, but it's not every day that the Pope shows up. So a little special commentary is in order.

I sent my resume to the College of Cardinals when Pope John Paul II died. I said I realied that I was a nontraditional candidate for the position, but perhaps the Church could benefit from a little shaking up by a nontraditional candidate.

The first thing I would do if I were Pope -- well, actually, I wouldn't do anything for a couple of years, you'd have to give people a little time to get used to me, and I'd want to go to seminary, but after that the first thing would be to issue a magnificently ambiguous encyclical concerning contraception. I wouldn't touch abortion. But I'd have those superbly subtle scriveners at the Vatican produce a perfectly ambiguous document that conservatives could point to and say, "look, the new Pope has reaffirmed the Church's traditional teaching about contraception," and the liberals could point to and say, "look, the new Pope has determined that the issue of contraception is to be left up to the conscience of the faithful."

And then I wouldn't say anything for five years. Maybe ten. Anytime anyone asked any questions about contraception, I'd refer them to the top Cardinals, who in turn would refer them to the encyclical. All your questions are answered in the encyclical, we'd tell everyone. That's how to make progress. The Church is like a huge ship -- it can't change course 180 degrees in an instant. Things would have to move slowly, and there'd have to be a period of ambiguity.

The other issue I'd move on would be women priests. Lack of applicants for the priesthood is holding the church back. Where can we find more good candidates? Well, duh -- you could increase your applicant pool by 100% instantly by allowing women. But again, it would be too controversial to change positions on this instantly. You'd have to start ambiguously.

Now, you might think that my strategy of ambiguity couldn't work on this issue. Making women priests would be pretty clear-cut.

But the canonical mind is equal to the challenge. I wouldn't actually make women priests. Of course women can't be priests, we'd tell everyone. But women could hold lesser offices -- deacon, perhaps, or perhaps a new lesser office would be invented. Then it's just a matter of gradually increasing the functions that deacons can perform until eventually they're saying mass. But they're not priests, oh no, of course not.

But of course they went and chose that Ratzinger fellow. Some people just can't accept change.

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