I don't know what it is about the papacy that holds my interest, albeit a disinterested interest. I have dim affection for the Roman Catholic religion as far as I know. The Church appears to me to do the reverse of the spiritual intent behind the symbolism. Gold representing whatever, white representing whatever, red representing whatever, lace representing whatever. Outfits from Roman times that are made of incredibly expensive cloth with personal tailors. Recalling a Lou Reed song that had the line, Pontif, pretty Pontif, spoken in Reed's sassy suburban teenage sneer tone of voice. I think it was somewhere on his New York album. When I hear it, I feel a twinge of empathy for il papa without knowing why. I tend to see the Roman Catholic Church the original bureaucracy, the original hierarchy, the original monopoly, the original dictatorship, the original international corporation, straight-jacket bound in a couple thousand years of tradition plus all the way back to goddess, tax-free wealth beyond the Cayman Islands, outrageously expensive (sacred) objects of gold. I left out the original conqueror of the New World sponsoring the slaughter of New World residents as too heathen to exist. For the gold. For the gold only. The Inca and Aztec civilizations were plundered to extinction for their gold taken back to the Crown and the Church. The North American people were slaughtered by Protestants to get them out of the way. Then it might be said, the Catholic approach was to kill them and take their gold, while the Protestant approach was to kill them for the thrill in the killing.
In a paragraph, that's a summary of how I see organized religion. The more organized, the worse. The most organized, the worst. I have the Protestant perspective from the start of seeing the pope as just a man. As just a man, I can appreciate il papa. That's it. That's where I appreciate the pontif. When I saw pictures of old Pope John bent over, unable to hold his head up, looking like a case of dementia, I felt empathy for him. He's just a man, but he's pope for life. If it takes all he can do to raise his hand and give the papal wave, he's pope for life. As long as he's living, he's pope. When old Benedict went in, looking way too much like the actor who played the Emperor in the Star Wars series, I felt sorry for him right off. He looked small and frail. Saying so soon he was unable to keep up with the papacy's regimen, the doctor having told him not to travel anymore, I could see he was in the early phases of frailty. He recognized it and saw that the Church needed a fresh mind to walk it through this next span of papal time, not somebody fading into frailty and dementia. It looks like the Church is going to be walking on hot coals for some time to come.
Lawsuits over child abuse from everywhere in the world have the potential to put the Church's outlandish wealth in jeopardy, perhaps into sales at international auction houses of wardrobes of popes past and infinite amounts of gold. When Wall Street starts sniffing at the leavings, look out. This period of time could put the Holy Roman Church out of existence, turn the Vatican into a museum of itself maintained by Friends of the Vatican. It could take a long time to liquidate the assets. I want to see the Vatican art collection I've heard is kept away from public view for various reasons for multiple centuries. It's said to have dollar value through the roof. When the buzzards are picking at the carcass, the dollar values told on evening news, in news magazines, money magazines, tv talk shows, will shock the world, make the Church look as materialist as the Americans. And this is where I have the problem with the Church. All their symbolism is about a Romanesque display of wealth and an Egyptian belief in the physical body. Big gold rings for the faithful to kiss on the bishop's hand. Phew. Give me a break. This is the few controlling the many.
I see the display of wealth and imagine a million times beyond what I can imagine, and there we have more symbolism. Wealth as infinite as the universe, therefore sacred. Give it unto Jesus. Jesus doesn't want that detritus. That's the stuff of the human mind, the stuff he took a human shape to help us get control of in ourselves, individually, to see that aint it. Then I see swarms of cardinals dressed in red billowing gowns like from Gone With The Wind, buzzing around il papa in multiple thousands of dollars worth of outfits apiece. And this is about Jesus? Jesus attired himself in his culture's equivalent of bluejeans and a tshirt. He didn't need scepters nor necklaces nor silk underwear nor million dollar mafia rings nor thousand dollar shoes. I can't help but doubt a "faith" that believes a man who gets up like Elizabeth Taylor in all her jewelry out of all her safe-deposit boxes represents the Jesus I read about in the Gospels, the Jesus the Holy Roman Church stands for. I don't get it, never got it, and probably never will get it. I don't see anything to get except the Church as another institution of the few controlling the many. It was a smooth transition from the Caesar to the Pope. In the name of Jesus, send us your money. Jesus said render unto Caesar in reference to taxes. Now he would say render unto the Pope. I'd venture that if Jesus were on foot somewhere on earth now, he would not be interested in seeing the Pope and the Pope would not be interested in seeing him unless he had a substantial amount of money to be giving over.
The pictures I've seen of the new Pope Francis tell me Woody Allen could play him in a movie. Wouldn't that be a riot, Woody Allen playing Pope. Being a director and experienced at New York dinner parties, Allen has the experience necessary to assume a papal role. I've heard a brief BBC radio profile of the new Pope and he seems like an interesting man. Again, I see him as a man who drew the losing straw and became Pope. He is evidently known for living with a monk's simplicity, called austerity by reporters, and won't be needing thousand dollar shoes. He is known for taking public transportation when bishops are privileged with big car and driver. He evidently was not one to take advantage of privilege, rather has no need for it. That's his style. Pope Benedict's style was scholar monk. Pope Francis looks like a social monk who gets out among the people as one of them. The reporters speak in awe of how he walks anywhere in the city, Buenos Aires, alone, without body guards. He didn't just walk around and people look at him with suspicion and say, What you doin in this neighborhood? Everybody he saw knew him. They talked with him. They respected him. And he respected them. They knew him as the one who was not afraid of them. They're not going to hurt him. He knows it and they know it, but seen from the outside it's like he's taking his life in his hands. Considering that from my point of view he's just a man, I see him needing waders, big yellow New England waders, maybe the whole outfit. He will be a good example to the world of a man who really means it when it gets reported how simply he lives in his papal privilege. One thing I believe I can say without fear of contradiction is the only thing this pope needs is prayed for. He's going to need the prayers of the world to hold him up through what looks to be a rocky road ahead like something you'd see in a disaster movie.