Monday, February 11, 2013
Pope Resigns Amid Controversy
The vatican is defending against various allegations of wrongdoing and intrigue as pope Benedict XVI announced he plans to resign at the end of this month from the most holy of positions within the catholic church this morning. The historic decision is far from routine as the last papal resignation occurred nearly 600 years ago, and comes after an 8 year reign that many are calling "disastrous". And with record declines in mass attendance and an overall abandonment of belief, paired with worldwide controversy over child abuse sandals and alleged coverups that are being tracked all the way to Benedict himself, the conspiracy theories are piling up.
The church issued a public statement to the vatican press that immediately dismissed speculation that Benedict was pressured to resign in favor of a pope with a "less terrifying smile", perhaps less reminiscent of a bloodthirsty undead leper. And the wild speculation does not end there.
An anonymous insider source was quoted to have evidence that Benedict was involved in the tracking and attempted acquisition of a famous holy artifact, the arc of the covenant. In an interview transcript released this afternoon the source alleges that Benedict laid claim to "intimate knowledge of nazi wartime research detailing the whereabouts of the most powerful military technology ever devised, the divine gift of the arc itself." And having failed to produce evidence to satisfy doubts within the structure of the church, was ushered out amid a smokescreen of medical reasons for his resignation. As of yet there has been no official response from the vatican on this matter.
Regardless of the reasoning for his premature departure, the world now awaits one of the most celebrated bureaucratic selection processes the world has ever produced: the papal conclave. For those unfamiliar with the ceremony from the April 2005 election that produced Benedict XVI, much ritualistic splendor is to be admired by the outside world. The college of cardinals will convene at the basilica of St. Peter to meet behind closed doors to operate the grand ouija, a lavishly decorated divination tool that requires the full effort and concentration of no less than 43 of the most decorated and trusted cardinals within the church. The men all struggle to force the pointer to spell out their own names, often resulting in many useless strings of nonsensical letters that are dismissed as "interference of the serpent" and causing delays that can grow to weeks of near constant debate and pleading.
Then after a legible name is either agreed upon (or more likely stumbled upon), the moment is communicated to the outside world by way of a small column of colored smoke spouted from the roof of the church. Then the race is afoot to find the new pope and promote him to the the closest position to god possible by mortal man, often complicated by the likelihood of other religious affiliation by the new appointee. But the church has never yet failed to convert or convince the new pope to accept the nomination, commonly through financially persuasive methods.
So the hunt begins to find the next person to wield the ridiculously lofty claims of infallibility and divine communication. Perhaps this time the pope will use this power to lead the masses from their lowly depths of ignorance and intolerance, and eliminate corruption and human rights abuses that occur both around the world and within the core of their very own institution. Or perhaps they will continue to lead the catholic church into increased irrelevance, lost in the shadow of the memory of a once-powerful institution. Either way, non-believers everywhere get to enjoy a world bereft of a figurehead that insists they speak directly to, and for, god himself. However briefly.