Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Death Control

A big welcome to Pope Benedict XVI, who succeeds John Paul II, who we assume has gotten busy doing miracles from heaven. (Two such posthumous miracles are part of the requirement for sainthood.) It's been 950 years since there was a German pope--and you Red Sox fans thought you had it bad.

I do, naturally, have a few doctrinal questions. As Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Benedict XVI was the head of the modern descendent of (gulp) the Inquisition. So is this kind of like Russia electing as its President the former head of the KGB?

(Completely coincidentally, I'm sure, Vladimir Putin used to be known as the "gray Cardinal.")

More importantly, where does this particular 78-year-old virgin stand on the use of prophylactics? The hard-line Roman Catholic view has always been that any sort of birth control is immoral. Rather pressingly, however, condoms have become an important part of "death control" as well, AIDS being the modern plague. So when birth control and death control are one and the same thing, what will the Holy Spirit tell the pope to do?

I'm disappointed that my own favorite, Francis Cardinal Arinze, didn't make a stronger showing. (Well, I guess "showing" is the wrong word, since everything's done in secret.) I'd love for there to be a black pope, but I'd especially appreciate if someone with a true stake in Africa's problems could take a prominent place on the world stage. It's needed. But it's been 1500 years since there's been an African pope. For what that kind of drought feels like, you'd need to ask Cubs fans.

The Quotidian Meander

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