The outgoing Pope leaves a vacuum and a legacy which singularly failed to reform an out of touch institution
The delivery said it all...
No tweeting. No facebook group status update. Not even delivered in a living language. Benedict XVI chose to reveal his resignation in Latin, thereby perhaps adequately underscoring his whole legacy. Out of touch with modern means of communication, unable (incapable?) of even the pretence of relevance for today's youth.
The Roman Catholic Church faces a crisis of age in her (former) Western European heartlands. I say former, because one cannot really claim that France or Spain are really overtly 'Christian' states anymore. If anything the tide of secularism, empiricism and liberalism which the enlightenment unleashed has well and truly 'done it in' for the See of Saint Peter. We see France, Britain and Spain all at the vanguard alongside Denmark and Scandinavia introducing equal civil marital rights for same sex couples. There isn't even the semblance of lipservice to 'biblical' values which condemn homosexuals like myself as 'sodomites'; nor indeed the ultra-reactionary attitudes toward women.
Lets face facts, western Europe has left the Church of Rome behind as we together work toward the 'tolerant and equal' society which first erupted in 1688 (UK) and 1789 (France).
And this perhaps irreversible decline into irrelevance, minority status, history has not been challenged by the outgoing pontiff. His ultra-conservative legacy regarding morals and ethics coupled with the dark spectre of international child-rape has terminally done it in for Church credibility with that oh-so-vital demographic: the youth.
Just check out the census data coming out these days. Roman Catholicism faces an ageing worship base in Western European states. The youth are simply turning away from an institution which can't even come to accept the sexual revolution of the 1960s.
No change on the cards...
Who is next in line? Check out 'moderate' candidate Odilo Scherer from Sao Paolo. His 'moderate' status is based largely on his belief that gays shouldn't be condemned as 'evil' (as Benedict sees us)... not exactly a ringing endorsement of the kinds of changes needed to salvage the See in Europe is it? And the more popular candidates with the 'traditionalists' (reactionary by modern day sociological and ethical standards) stand two homophobic chaps who have it in for female equality. Francis Arinze and Peter Turkson, both African cardinals present the best chances for a black Pope (first since before 1000AD)
Both cardinals are on record arguing for the 'criminality' and 'evil' un-naturality of 'homos'. Any organisation, religious or not, which thinks said views like these are 'traditional' rather than extremist is one fatally out of touch. But then, this isn't an institution known for her egalitarianism is it?
If anything, the next Pope will continue the single greatest legacy of both John Paul II & Benedict XVI, that is the shift south. Africa, Latin America is where the future of this organisation rests. In Europe it really is a matter of time and irreversible demographical trends.
Catherine Pepinster of 'The Tablet' (a Catholic weekly) can be relied upon to sum up the dismay at the Benedict legacy as Pope:
"Benedict failed to reform the Vatican, preferring to write his book"
Isn't that simply unarguably true? His abject failure in relation to the child-sex abuse is perhaps partly what the very diplomatic Pepinster was referring to. And Benedict has personal responsibility on a truly epic scale for that hammer-blow on the See. It was he, as the late John Paul II enforcer who in the Holy Office of the Indoctrination of the Faith, systematically covered up (and even today) refuses to reveal the scale of the evidence of abuse. Locked in those Vatican vaults, by Benny's orders, is enough evidence to bring hundreds maybe even thousands of paedophile priests to justice. He has done nothing however.
'Failure to reform'. Let this be Benedict XVI sad chapter as Pope.