Saturday, April 09, 2005

What now?

It seems like the worst of it is over and people are settling down after this orgy of overwrought emotions that I’d been witness to. Of course, it all had a nasty effect on them. For example, last night my wife accused me of having no beliefs – after all, it wasn’t like I was a Muslim or Jewish or anything. I was quite shocked. She, if anyone, should know better than that, given the trouble we went through to get married because I wasn’t willing to pimp my beliefs.

The question everyone is asking is who will be the next Pope. As it happens, I know who it will be. Frankly it isn’t hard to work out – it will be someone who was made cardinal by the last Pope, i.e. a conservative who will keep on focussing on whether guys commit the ‘sin’ of wearing a little bit of plastic on their penis, and who will keep on cutting himself off from those priests who dare to actively oppose non-secularist dictatorship. In other words, business as usual. What name this Pope carries now seems to me pretty much as inconsequential as what name he will choose upon being elected. I hope I’m wrong about this and I guess it will make some difference who is chosen – Ratzinger being one particularly frightening choice – but it will not make enough difference to justify the focus it is receiving. Apart from the conservatism that the 26 year long reign of JP2 entrenched, there is also the inherent conservatism that any institution that has managed to survive for 2000 years must exhibit (not that I can think of any other examples of such long-lived institutions). After all, an institution survives in the long term not by aiding change but by opposing it.

Having said that, the same kind of pointless expectation and emotion surrounds the election of a new Pope as there is surrounding a football match that is about to begin – which side will come out on top, who will walk away with the trophy? Strangely enough this mystique manages to persist despite everyone knowing that all of the players are on the same team.


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