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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Number 266, please! Habemus Papam and the pope factory

He left quickly, and he came back very quickly indeed. With the new pope Francis I – the first pope ever to come from Latin America – the Vatican has overcome the sudden and brief emptiness of papacy after Benedict XVI’s surprising retirement just a few weeks ago. While the whole Catholic world (and maybe also all the other ones) desperately waited for the white smoke to come out of the Sistine Chapel’s chimney, discussion rise again about the sense and the nonsense of the Vatican system.

On a first glance, everything looks like a big change in the Catholic Church: the first pope ever from a non-European country, the first Jesuit pope ever, and the first who has chosen the name “Francis” as a papal name. The Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio is considered to be an advocate for the poor, and his election could not only strengthen the role of Latin America in the world, it could also be a signal for the global struggle against poverty.

So far the first enthusiastic reactions of experts and mass media just moments after Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran has spoken the words “Habemus Papam” to the global public.

Very high expectations for no reason?
But quite frankly: if someone expects big changes with the new pope, then he will be bitterly disappointed. If there is something the Vatican definitely is not famous for, then it’s radical or remarkable changes. On the contrary, the Vatican is a symbol for medieval rite keeping, even in the early 21st century.

The new pope Bergoglio is known for having antique views on abortion issues, gay marriages, and euthanasia. As a result, the Catholic Church will continue its highly conservative views on aspects of life that have become normal for a modern society and which have evolved strong progress for our understanding of an open-minded world community. In short: the Catholic Church goes on ignoring changes.

The tiny medieval isle
Cleary, the vote of the new pope did not even take place under contemporary democratic principles. Someone might argue that in the smallest country in the world you cannot expect a reasonable sized population for which democratic standards can be applicable for the election if the pope, since in this case it’s not necessarily a regular political position. However, in legal terms and regarding international laws, the pope is also the head of state of the Vatican and as a consequence, his election should also be conducted in accordance with the principles of democracy and good governance.

That’s the theory so far. But neither the Vatican, nor the election of the pope, nor any other “eligious or social “policy making” progress has been conducted according to democratic principles.  Technically, this sets the whole Vatican on an equal step with a pre-industrial absolutistic monarchy.

The pope, as a person, is merely a public figure for the catholic believers; he is neither a policy maker, nor an agenda setter. And even though some pope tried to implement reforms in the Vatican system, the system inside prevents a significant change of paradigms. Even necessary and contemporary essential adaptions to modern society are being completely ignored by the Vatican – such as equal treatment of homosexuals, abortion policies, or a modern understanding of family structures.

Advocacy for the poor or free market corporation?
Bergoglio will make no difference whatsoever and he will follow his predecessors long tradition of system keeping behind the Vatican’s closed doors. Inside this world, the Vatican works like a multinational corporation. In short, the new CEO was elected by his board of directors to continue the company’s main strategy without further changes, but keeping their customers at their dogmas and questionable believe system, not to mention their own definition towards justice for the poor.

The Catholic Church works like an ordinary profit oriented corporation and the pope as a person is functioning like a marketing tool. While all other companies have a product, a series of products or even a bitten apple as a symbol, the Catholic Church’s main selling product or unique selling proposition (USP) is no longer the bible, the cross, or its churches’ architecture, but the single person carrying who has been chosen to head the Vatican until the end of his life, under normal circumstances. And after him, the next one will take charge of the factory. And even the claim to advocate the poor sounds like a desperate and no longer trustworthy marketing slogan.

Waiting for number 267
During his inaugural speech, ”Francis” has asked the masses waiting on Saint Peter’s Square to pray for him. How shall this request be interpreted? As a message that his papacy will be a short one? He is already 76 years old, and his predecessor Ratzinger (“Benedict XVI”) assumed the papal chair at the age of 78, before resigning from office just eight years later.
Once again, it is most likely that the new pope will just be a temporary one, but this time the Vatican cannot afford another pre-mortal retirement.

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