Today the pond would like to study defensive paranoia in the commentariat for LOL purposes. Exhibit one:
Chaos? Quick sell off the marble in St Peters they stole from Roman landmarks.
Is there any better example of explicit fraught paranoia than the opening pars of Angela Shanahan's piece Papacy of Benedict was fraught with problems (behind the paywall so you can enjoy a peaceful weekend):
In a society where religion is often dismissed by the elites as irrelevant to public debate, the news that the Pope had resigned was not ignored by the hoi polloi.
People have been talking about the papal abdication all week. Even the ABC thought the resignation of the spiritual leader of more than a billion people a newsworthy topic.
The juxtaposition of the "elites" with the "hoi polloi" is truly wondrous and bizarre, a classic confusion of elites who generally say no such thing as religion being irrelevant to public debate, with the great unwahsed, who in India, China and a few other places probably didn't give a flying fuck about the Pope stepping down.
It's like being bashed over the head with sundry straw dogs, but then comes the ripper topper to that tosh ... Even the ABC ...
Why the ABC's been reporting about the pedophilic church for yonks.
We keed, we keed. The ABC has an online section of its site devoted to religion and ethics, and this week it's loaded to the gills with Catholicism (but it also has healthy slabs of news for tykes even when the pope was in situ).
The pond never reads it, and it seems neither does Shanahan, suggesting she really is an abjectly silly goose, completely uninterested in the activities of others (much like the deviant secularist pond).
Never mind, what follows in her piece is a classic case of second hand gossip scribbled about Rome from a remote eerie from somewhere near Canberra. Along with requisite blather, fear and loathing about secularists and liberals:
The other great challenge is the decline in Catholic spirituality, with the parallel triumph of secular relativism in the West. There is widespread disillusionment with the established church and narrow secularism encourages a view of religion that would remove even its long philosophical tradition from the public domain.
Ah those bloody secular relativists. It's all their fault that some priests went the grope and then persuaded the hierarchy to cover it up, and failing to warn the church that the cover up is where it all falls apart.
To make matters worse, there is a shrinking demographic in Christianity's traditional European strongholds. In Spain and Italy, fertility rates of 1.2 and 1.4 respectively are the lowest in western Europe. Aggravating the apparent numerical decline of the church, a new liberalism has taken hold in Europe and North America that wants to diminish the authority of the hierarchy and erode traditional doctrine on issues such as family, life and sexuality, which are non-negotiable areas.
Actually, family, life and sexuality are negotiable and always have been, as even the most cursory reading of the history of the church in medieval times would testify, and as noted in the ABC's religion report last Wednesday and still available here.
That report made note of the issue of celibacy and the way there are a number of Catholic priests who are in fact married.
A quick trip over to the wiki on clerical celibacy and you'll find this:
Because the rule of clerical celibacy is a law and not a doctrine, exceptions can be made, and it can, in principle, be changed at any time by the Pope.
Indeed. Unless you roam around in a fearful conservative fog like Shanahan.
And what an hysterical, rhetorical fog it is:
Where Catholicism flourishes, it is not of the new touchy-feely character that tolerates a watering down of doctrine. In the developing world the anti-authoritarian excess in the West that followed Vatican II have been corrected; ancient elements of Catholic tradition and practice such as the Marian emphasis have been revived; and there is frank horror of Western notions of "private" sexual morality.
Yes, yes, and there's poofter bashing and witch burning, and none of that touch feely crap that Jesus was always wont to vent, like loving your brothers and your sisters and your neighbour and so on and so forth.
...I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother or the media will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother or the pond will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ to the ABC, the media or a stray passing liberal secularist will be liable to the hell of fire.
Thanks Matthew 5:22, because Angela Shanahan seems like the sort of raving conservative ratbag who is ripe for superstition and the wearing of a decent blood-drawing cilice, and there she is, given prime space in The Australian on a regular basis.
Well if you've had enough of Shanahan's blather about the divine inspiration of the church and its universal focus (except for poofters and women), why not take a trip over to Crikey, and have a read of Michael Hewitt-Gleeson's more intriguing explanation of the resignation, in Inside the Vatican, West Wing meets The Da Vinci Code.
Hewitt-Gleeson frames it in the context of a feud between the Roman Curia (and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone) and the Holy See, and the pond doesn't have a clue as to its accuracy, but it makes for a much better read than the dolorous Fearful Shanahan.
So we are left with an aging Pope, a virtual prisoner of The Holy See, running out of personal protectors, who has only one move left to keep The Holy See from the hands of Bertone and the Roman Curia. He can put the future of the church back into the hands of the College of Cardinals … by resigning! Checkmate.
Benedict has warned his Vatican nemesis of this for at least a couple of years. Rome’s diplomatic corps was abuzz with this in 2010. Former Australian ambassador to The Holy See, Tim Fischer, has referred to the fact of rumours of resignation in his own recent commentaries.
Maybe Bertone and co thought the Pontiff was bluffing. Anyway, he’s made his move. A clever, courageous, strategic and game-changing move from an old and embattled man to protect his Chair of Peter from those who would covet its power.
That's more like it. The Vatican as a TV mini-series - oh okay, the pond has just come off a look at the Borgias, and the enduring Jeremy Irons, who trained for his priestly role by doing a re-make of Lolita.
Quick, quick, head off to Crikey, or pick up a DVD, because as a bonus, The Australian also offers Christopher Pearson blathering on about the papacy in Sensible move by Benedict.
What the fuck. Shanahan and Pearson, a kind of double bunger of fearful conservatism, and they've both read from the same song sheet, because he can't help mentioning the media as well:
It makes it more likely those hostile to the church, especially the media, will try to bully his successors into abdicating, as they've attempted to do with Benedict.
Yep fearful defensive paranoia's alive and well in the lizard Oz.
Not content with this, Pearson decides to jump the rhetorical shark:
... it's not widely understood that he has done more, at a time of rampant secularism, to strengthen the church's ties with Judaism and Islam (the other Abrahamic religions), than any previous pope. The same is true on a grander scale within Christendom, especially in his conciliation of the Orthodox churches. Along with his Anglican Ordinariate initiative, the most significant opening for corporate reunion with Rome since the Reformation, it means he's likely to be remembered as the Pope of Christian unity.
Christian unity means sucking up to the Islamics?
Oh you can see the likes of Tim Bleagh fainting in the aisle.
It's an advance to allow married Anglican priests into the fold?
Oh you can see the non-negotiableAngela Shanahan fainting in the aisle.
The liberal press is pinning its hopes on a third-world candidate, settling for social justice since there are no advocates of women's ordination, gay marriage or abortion hovering in the wings. We may be in for a surprise, pleasant or otherwise, but I doubt it. Notwithstanding the vitality of the church in South America, Africa and Asia, it seems more likely the papacy will go to a European and probably revert to an Italian.
Actually the liberal press, trained up by James Packer and other gambling syndicates, just wants to know the likely contenders, and the odds, in order to place a decent bet.
Being something of a betting man himself, Pearson proposes Angelo Scola as the odds on standout favourite, with Canadian Marc Quellet as a handy runner and Peter Erdo as a sturdy stayer.
The pond will remember this, and in due time we'll see how Pearson's predictions hold up - but since he once proposed that Simon Crean would return to the leadership of the Labor party, this seems like an unfortunate undermining of Scola's prospects.
If Pearson picks you, you're under a severe handicap, and might be carrying too much weight for age.
Anyhow, unlike Pearson, the pond is always keen to please, so if you're interested in a bet, why not check out the odds at Paddypower.
Scola is listed as 7/2 and Wuellet at 4/1 and Tarcisio Bertone at 6/1, but Erdo is only at 25/1, and who the hell is Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana whom the canny bookies have at 11/4?
On the upside, if the cardinals elect the first black pope, paddypower will refund all losing bets on the Next Pope market, and you can also bet on the next pope, the papal name of the next pope, the length of the papal concalve, the next pope to resign, the country and age of the next pope, the number of ballots held, and Benedict XVI's residence at year end.
Sheesh, the liberal media? More likely the secular bookies always keen to get your cash in their paw, a bit like the Catholic church in a tithing frenzy.
Who said gambling was out of control? Are they doing blood doping checks on the candidates?
Hey, those odds of Bono at 1000/1 are seriously tempting ...
Please, please remember to gamble responsibly, or better still, not gamble at all, or if you decide to have a fling, bet on a certainty.
Like Christopher Pearson and Angela Shanahan filling the weekend lizard Oz with pious tosh, and without the first clue about how to pitch a decent mini-series ...
(Below: Paddypower's market as of Friday. Why not click to enlarge, cut up and use as an office sweep? Guaranteed fun for the liberal secularists in the office and a hungry power crazed media and cardigan wearing ABC types. Where's the harm in a dollar flutter or married priests having a little fun?)