Friday, March 03, 2006

Pope Benedict celebrates Lent

There are those who would have us believe that Pope Benedict XVI is "the Nazi pope," simply because he was in the Hitler Youth and served in the German military during World War II. Personally, I think that characterization misses the mark; young Joseph Ratzinger was at worst an unenthusiastic pawn of the Nazis, and he does seem to have stood up to resist them by the end of the war. Indeed, his family suffered because of his dad's outspoken criticism of the Nazis, even before the war.

Rather, I think of Pope Benedict more as the Taliban Pope. Consider the regulations for Lent as an excellent example of how far up his own ass this Pope sticks his head:
ABSTINENCE: Everyone 14 years of age and older is bound to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, the Fridays of Lent and Good Friday. [Whew! For a minute there I thought I was supposed to abstain from sex!]

FASTING: Everyone 18 years of age and older but under the age of 60 is additionally bound to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. On these two days, the law of fast allows only one full meal a day, but does not prohibit taking some food during the day, so long as it does not constitute another full meal. Drinking liquids is also permitted. [Drinking large quantities of beer, or especially communion wine, is encouraged. However, three or more martinis are the equivalent of a full meal.]

When health or ability to work would be seriously affected, the law does not oblige. In doubt concerning fast or abstinence, a priest assigned to pastoral ministry or confessor should be consulted. In the spirit of penance, the faithful should not lightly excuse themselves from this obligation.
That's right: Jesus wants you to seriously damage your own health and your ability to do your job, purely for the symbolic value of denying yourself such frivolous luxuries as food. It is more important that you show your devotion to Jesus than that you stay out of the hospital or avoid fainting at the wheel of a bus — no joke.

Let us all sing "Alleluia!" in praise of the Pope's strictness in enforcing the Lenten sacrifice — oh, except you're not allowed to sing "Alleluia!" either, because that would be joyful. And yet this is the same man who said, "The loss of joy does not make the world better — and, conversely, refusing joy for the sake of suffering does not help those who suffer. The contrary is true. The world needs people who discover the good, who rejoice in it and thereby derive the courage and impetus to do good." Sacrificing your health or other people's lives won't reduce Jesus' suffering on the cross in the slightest, but you should do it anyway, because it makes the Pope feel more powerful, kind of like a Septuagenarian Mutant Ninja Turtle.

I'm not saying that all Catholics are nut cases, any more than all Muslims are nut cases. However, any Catholic who follows the teachings of Papa Ratzi is just as much of a whack job as any Muslim who follows the teachings of the Taliban, and Joseph Ratzinger is among the Hooiest of the Hooey. Looking squarely at the future of humanity, Pope Benedict is leading the Catholic Church back into the Dark Ages, full speed in reverse. What else would we expect from the head of the Inquisition — or, as it is now known, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith?

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