Monday, February 18, 2013

Friday Dance Party: Going Papal

Tallullah Bankhead attended a Catholic mass, during which the priest passed by, swinging his orb of incense.  In her signature raspy purr, she remarked, "Love the gown, Dahling.  But I'm afraid your purse is on fire."
I have less than zero interest in who the next pope will be, but as the current guy's resignation was big news this week, welcome to the Dance Party. 
Father Guido Sarducci got a peep at the pope, and became a
fixture in the early days of Saturday Night Live
I vote for him.

I'm most interested, I suppose, in the historical significance of Pope Bennie's abdication.  Lots of notice was taken that he is the first pontiff to take a powder in almost 600 years.  Out of curiosity, I did a bit of research on that subject, and there's a bit more to the story.
House of Blue Leaves put Swoozie Kurtz, John Mahoney, and playwright John Guare on the map.  A visit from the pope figures heavily in the plot.
Gregory XII was the most recent pope to poop out, back in those swinging days of 1412. 
Celestine V was the most recent pope
to voluntarily resign.  The poet Dante
was so pissed, he placed him as a
resident of hell in his Inferno.

He did not willingly step down;  he was forced out.  The Western Schism was finally healing, bringing to an end the 67 year period when the papacy had been relocated to Avignon, France.  During that period, all the popes elected were French and under the thumb of the French monarchy.  When the papacy returned to Rome, Gregory XII was installed, but he quickly became unsuitable, and a second pope was installed back in France.  There followed a period of dueling popes (isn't this fun?), but all was mended when it was decided that Gregory and his French rival would both be forced out, and a third guy would get to wear that hat.
14th Century Catholics were plenty confused by the Western Schism, which afforded duplicate popes. 
None of this has any significance, really, except to remark that today's Bennie seems to be retiring voluntarily, and a pope has not done that since 1294.  Why is the current pontiff quitting? 
Benedict will continue to live in the Vatican to avoid
prosecution for his mishandling of his church's sex abuses.

Old age and lack of physical strength are being tossed about by the curia's court, which claims that the pope is being very brave to step down in favor of a younger, more vibrant contestant.  Others, though, are suggesting that Benedict is ducking the growing scandal and subsequent recriminations surrounding the European clergy and sexual abuse.  (That scandal rocked this country in the last decade, but is still gaining traction in Europe).

I've read some sources who claim that Benedict himself may be embroiled in the scandal, dating back to his days as a younger cleric.  He most certainly is being blamed for covering up Catholic abuses during his rise within the ranks of the Church.  As such, he plans to remain in the Vatican during his retirement, where he will be immune to prosecution for "crimes against humanity."
Like all German boys, Joseph Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth.  He claims to have been conscripted, and to have later deserted the group.  That may be revisionist history;  his more recent Crimes Against Humanity include stubborn resistance to the use of condoms to slow the spread of the AIDS epidemic in Africa.
I'm hardly going out on a limb here by suggesting that Bennie is culpable for such crimes.  I suppose we'll never see a pope who will be accepting of homosexuality, even as the rest of the world makes strides to grant full legal rights to gays.  But Benedict XVI's most egregious crime against humanity remains his absolute intransigence regarding the use of condoms.  I really don't care what the Church doctrine says about contraception, most Catholics ignore it, but when the pope refuses to approve the use of condoms in the attempts to halt the AIDS epidemic, he really is causing lives to be lost.

White smoke will signal that a new pope will begin to
spout the same old same old.
I don't guess his successor will be any more progressive on the subject.  In order to rise to the College of Cardinals, those old coots have to remain solidly in the right wing column, so the next pope will be elected by a group of men as intransigent as Benedict himself.  Bennie is responsible for elevating many of the current crop to the cardinalship anyway, so it's very doubtful anyone with a more progressive stance will be electing the new guy.

Which brings us, finally, to this week's Dance Party. 
The Nunsense gals do not star in this week's Dance Party.

Eschewing the obvious catholic choices of guitar-strumming novices or tap-dancing nuns, the clip below is both funny and creepy at the same time.  It seems a troop of acrobats are performing for the pope and his retinue.  The homoeroticism of the act is obvious, and the huge ovation these studs get from the priests is telling.  Pope Ratzinger's own reactions are priceless as well.