Tuesday, February 08, 2005

A Retirement...and A Leave Of Absence

It is being reported that a mandatory retirement age of 80 is under consideration for future Popes. On its surface the idea does seem fair. Modern Popes spend their entire career tending their flock and fighting the forces of evil. They work seven days a week, which is one more than the boss worked, and they lead by rigorous example. As does the current Pontiff, they soldier on in the face of debilitating disease and painful illness. Any other CEO should expect to be out at age 65 with an 8 figure annual pension. There are, however a few practical problems with this superficially good and charitable idea.

What happens when the Pope retires? Imagine the other guys at the office arranging a farewell booze-up at the local pizzeria. The Cardinal Archbishop of Boston grabs the mike and reminds everyone of the time His Holiness tried to say ‘Blessed Easter’ in Serbo-Croatian and wound up saying ‘the artichoke is on the bowling ball’. Forget the party. And where does the ex-Pope go after retiring? It’s embarrassing to have Old Pius hanging around the office; things do move on. He could just pack it in and move to the south of France, but Clement V did that in 1309 and that led to a civil war in the Church. As to the pension, forget it. Not one penny or centime or drachma or denarius has been put into the Papal Social Security system in 2,000 years. Before the first check is cut, the system is broke. Liberal Cardinals might deny there’s a problem, but conservative Prelates would have a field day on Vatican Talk Radio. Of course the ex-Pope could do what former US President’s do to keep busy – but the Vatican already has a library.

Even if the practical problems can be solved, there are potential theological flies in the holy water as well. When the Pope makes a divinely inspired pronouncement on matters of faith and morals, he is said to be speaking ‘ex cathedra’, that’s Latin for ‘from the chair’. Does retirement cut off Divine Inspiration or do both the ex-Pope and the new Pope make pronouncements together. The concept of ‘ex sofa’ or ‘ex bench’ loses a bit of the effect. And how does the ‘all human life from conception to death is useful to the purposes of God’ thing work. Is it moral to force old Celestine to spend his time playing bingo and watching reruns of Quo Vadis just because he turns 80?

No, Papal retirement might seem like an exciting, trendy idea, however things should probably be left as they are. This is one CEO’s job where you’re never too old learn from the Chairman of the Board, there’s a chance to do something good for the employees every day, and you can work hard to deliver quality customer service regardless of your age. And when the pension finally kicks in, it lasts forever.

…as to the leave of absence, your correspondent is going on the road. Partly for pleasure and partly for business, Homo Insapiens will be travelling for a few weeks. Every attempt will be made to post despatches from the front, however access to the internet may be problematic. Sincere thanks to those who read the irregular postings and continue to comment and criticize. By your request, attempts will be made to sort out the ‘archives’, list other noteworthy blogs, make use of , ‘categories’, and ‘search’, and generally dust the premises. Honest efforts will be made to understand what that all means after returning from foreign shores. Any suggestions on how to accomplish these improvements, short of reading a post-doctoral course in html, will be deeply appreciated.


Blogger Dot Bar said...

It would be a pretty intense "job" all right!

11:28 AM  
Blogger Girl Ipsa said...

Hello! I think the fact that they want to retire the Pope speaks volumes. Seems to me that he will either speak the word of God until he's dead or he never really spoke it to begin with. Do we distrust him now that he's old? I guess this makes sense if he's making up his own age-addled mind about stuff. But I thought he was merely a channel for the word of God. We don't plan to retire God, do we?

Reminds me a bit of the Mormons who took every word Joseph Smith said as the literal word of God... except for those words that they didnt take as the literal word of God. There's a thought. God has an editor. Eventually all editors retire.

Nice to meet you.

2:09 PM  
Blogger ...just-rambling... said...

Good post. Perhaps there could be an apprentice Pope that could assume the role as Pope when, say, the Pope is in the hospital?

Regarding suggestions: I recommend blogrolling ( http://www.blogrolling.com/ ) for listing other noteworthy blogs. It's free, unless you want to upgrade to a fancier blog roll. Google has something that allows visitors search within your blog. I don't know if it works with Blogger or not, but I'll look into it. And, if it works I may have it on my blog by the time you return from your trip.

Have a safe journey!

10:09 PM  
Blogger Abby Taylor said...

Randomly surfed into your blog via Blog Explosion. What a nice surprise! A joy to read. Thanks!

10:58 PM  
Blogger Scrawler said...

Thanks for visiting my blog :)

9:06 AM  
Blogger SwissToni said...

This is the problem with picking a "young" pope - in the old days, the cardinals were fully aware that the thing that made them powerful was their role in picking the pope, so they made sure that they only picked the oldest, most decrepid candidate, safe in the knowledge that they would soon be called back in to vote for the next one. This also meant that they themselves had more chance of becoming the pope because the turnover was so high.

The big mistake with JPII was that they picked a pope who was young and pretty healthy (dammit, even bullets didn't stop him)

Now he just won't die at all.

I propose that we revert back to the medieval fall-back. Back in those days, when the pope hung around a bit longer than was comfortable, he was popped off. You know the routine - no external marks on the body and you'll be fine.

Ah, the good old days.

You can't have a retired pope, can you? Although I have to say that I do like the idea of an apprentice pope. Perhaps catholicism should steal this idea from the Dalai Lama - when the old one dies, they go out looking for the child born at the same moment and install him in the role.

No less random than the way they do it now, and we might not get a religious bigot in charge.

BA (hons) Renaissance History
MA Medieval Studies

6:38 AM  
Blogger boudica of suburbia said...

hmmm... to be cruel, yet honest, the man looks like he can barely feed himself yet alone manage the Palpacy. Give him a gold watch and a bungalow in Florida, and be done with it.

xx Vc

9:29 AM  
Blogger Lilly said...

@chilled_v, I wish the enticement you mentioned could raise one eyebrow of our own Holiness Jaime Cardinal Sin, Archbishop of Manila (Philippines). He lives in a luxurious palace, heads the archdiocese that owns unimaginable tracts of land, belongs to the top 100 corporations of the country and yes, the Catholic Church in the Philippines is exempted from paying taxes. Add to the fact that every politician (nearly all) seeking election in this country pays the good Archbishop a courtesy visit to gain his endorsement. In a country where corruption is endemic, guess what ensues from the visit should the endorsed politican win. The victory is assured. The Archbishop is decidedly a political force by himself. If an Archbishop from a 3rd world country could live in heavenly bliss on earth, perhaps Pope JPII should just stay where he is right now. :)

11:27 AM  

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