who the heck knows anything, anyway

Monday, February 11, 2013

nerding out over the approaching conclave

Update: this information on Cardinal Peter Turkson's support of a terrifying bill in Uganda was inexplicably absent when I was reading about him a few days ago. I had heard he was a moderate and thought a Black pope would be a nice change, but this information breaks my heart. Anti-Gay and essentially pro-murder? I don't even understand how this is allowed. I guess I'll never understand how people can hate so strongly. Seems like the approaching conclave is being set up to be as disappointing as the last one. I don't know why I ever expect anything to change. Fingers crossed, maybe, maybe, maybe they'll elect someone who acts out of courage instead of fear.

You guys have all heard about Pope Benedict XVI stepping down this month, right? I got an alert on Twitter this morning via the BBC, and I was like WHAAAAA. I understand this kind of nerdery gets fringier by the day, but I can't help myself. I was born and raised Catholic (cradle Catholic, if you will) and though I disagree with many, many, many of the currently upheld social justice policies and haven't been to mass in, well, years, I still find myself caring. I equate it to being culturally Jewish. I have a lot of friends who consider themselves culturally Jewish, but not in the least religious. So I'm like that with Catholicism. I've got a guilt complex, I hate having any money when other people are suffering, and I spend a lot of spare hours researching saints' lives. I once painted a triptych called Saints With Plates, because I find saints with their body parts on plates to be morbidly charming (Saint Agatha, anyone? Patron Saint of bread and bells, because, you know, that's what disembodied breasts look like). Alright, that's my silly little aside.

Right, ok, so now I'm hanging out at home, on the opposite side of the world as my dad, who is the only other person I can conceivably nerd out with, when I read (at like 4am Pacific Time. USELESS.) that BXVI is going to step down. This is the first time this has happened in about 600 years, but I actually respect his reasons. He feels like he's too old and ill to do a good job. I really, truly respect that.

But, Killian, get on with it. This is not exciting. Why are you flipping out?

Two reasons!

I love this crap. I hope I can live-stream the smokestack where they cast/burn votes (dark smoke, no new Pope; white smoke, new Pope!). I want to have a party where we bet fake relics on our Cardinal favorites while we drink wine. I love tittering with my parents and their liberal priest friends about who we want as Pope and who we absolutely do not want*. I love researching the darlings. It's probably the closest I get, outside of Olympic swimming, to being into competitive sports.

Second, and more widely interesting: PROPHECY.
We all love a good prophecy, right? WELL. For years, my dad has entertained us with stories about the prophecies of Malachy. We got pretty amped up about it during the previous Popelection.

SO. According to Saint Malachy--a medieval saint who "predicted" the last, like 100+ popes--Benedict XVI is the second to last Pope. Alright, according to wikipedia: "[The prophecies] purport to describe each of the Roman Catholic popes (along with a few anti-popes), beginning with Pope Celestine II (elected in 1143) and concluding with the successor of current pope Benedict XVI, a pope described in the prophecy as "Peter the Roman", whose pontificate will end in the destruction of the city of Rome."

It saaaaays: 
Petrus Romanus, qui paſcet oues in multis tribulationibus: quibus tranſactis ciuitas ſepticollis diruetur, & Iudex tremẽdus iudicabit populum ſuum. Finis.
Peter the Roman, who will nourish the sheep in many tribulations; when they are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The end. 

EPIC, RIGHT? So, of course, some people read this as a doomsday prediction. My dad and I prefer to read into it differently, finding in it the destruction of the Church as we know it, or something to that effect. Optimistically, we like to think this Peter-pope will usher in a new time in the Church--one of a progressive nature, where women can be priests (again), contraception isn't such an issue, the GLBTQ community feels universally welcomed, or anything like that. Basically Vatican III. 
Or, less optimistically, it could mean the Catholic Church essentially dies, finding itself back in Old School Square One where practitioners hide in basements and are accused of vampirism or whatever. Super less optimistically, it means Vatican City--possibly all of Rome--will get blowed up, and then blah blah blah everybody's dead. I prefer the women-can-be-priests etc. reading, m'self. ;)

The big question with the whole "Peter the Roman" thing is that a pope is not technically allowed to take the name Peter when he comes into office. Peter is pretty much the only holy name that's off limits.  Crazily, though, there IS a current favorite among the cardinals...whose GIVEN NAME is Peter. Peter Turkson. And he's African. First black Pope would be a pretty big deal...

Ok, done squealing about this. I just think there's so much potential in any election--even if the Cardinals are a bunch of conservative-to-moderate dudes. Still... change is possible. Even baby steps make a difference, although a leap would be nice at this point. If I were a better Catholic I'd say the Holy Spirit will find some way to work it all out for the best, but I am a little bit jaded these days, and I doubt Pope Benedict XVI would consider me much of a Catholic at all, what with my social politics. Ah well. I like the nuns better, anyway. 

*full disclosure: there was a lot of crying and angrily-locking-selves-in-rooms after the last election. It's basically like a presidential election! All the crazy emotions and chewing of fingernails...except we non-cardinals don't get to vote. Eh, yeah.