Pope Benedict XIV Resigns; Humanity Might Now Be Doomed To Marriage Equality

Pope Benedict

It’s amazing how quickly Twitter went from being aflutter about the Grammy’s and the State of the Union Address to cranking out Pope jokes like whoa. There have been some that made me giggle –




– probably because I really like meta-humor, Patton Oswalt and rat jokes. But in the middle of picturing Pope Benedict XIV all papal-geared out, flinging rats like they’re ninja stars, I saw this:


And it reminded me that Pope Benedict XVI wasn’t just some harmless old guy with an imaginary rat-flinging habit and a crazy hat collection but really kind of a genuine jerk.

I was raised Catholic. I come from a big German Catholic family in Cincinnati, where Catholicism and Catholic schooling are huge (Our Lady of the Sacred Heart elementary class of ’96, baby!). Though now an atheist, I still go to church with my mom when I’m home because it makes her happy.

One of our yearly traditions is Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. This year, before mass started, a man got up and “invited” non-Catholics to “please stay in their seats” during communion (where Catholics go to the alter and receive Eucharist and wine symbolizing the body and blood of Christ). Then he told Catholics who had any private disagreements with the church’s teachings to stay put, too. Merry Christmas, everybody! God is love!

The rule that non-Catholics can’t take communion is well-established in the Catholic church (though not generally much fussed about). But the private sin thoughts business is new — and a direct response to growing popular support among Catholics for things like marriage equality and birth control access.

Pope Benedict XVI didn’t directly require parishes to make this pre-mass announcement; he did, however, create a culture incredibly and openly hostile to gay Catholics and homosexuals in general. A culture where Archbishops, church officials and individual priests and parishes felt it proper to tell ardent and devoted believers like my mom — on Christmas! — that she didn’t hate gay people enough to receive Catholic sacrament.

When he first took office, in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI said:

“The various forms of the dissolution of matrimony today, like free unions, trial marriages and going up to pseudo-matrimonies by people of the same sex, are rather expressions of an anarchic freedome that wrongly passes for true freedom of man.”

During his final December Christmas address, Pope Benedict called support for same-sex marriage an attack “on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child.” In November 2012, he launched an extensive anti-gay marriage media blitz. In January 2012, he called gay marriage a threat “to the future of humanity.”

So good riddance, Ratzinger. I find it unlikely the next pope will address issues like contraception, homosexuality and women’s role in the church with any more modernity, but perhaps at least we can hope for less hyperbole and less vitriol.

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    • Peppercorn

      I’m a pansexual feminist who also happens to have been raised in a very religious Catholic family and community. I do not agree with the Catholic Church’s positions on birth control and LGBT rights (among other things), but I think making fun of one particular person, in this case, Pope Benedict, is kind of sinking to the level of all the other haters out there. It’s just the church’s position on the matter, and it’s going to take a lot to change that. I mean, the pope before him, John Paul II, was known to be a great humanitarian- heck, he was even nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize- but he was still against contraceptives and gay marriage. Like I said, it’s just the church’s doctrine, and has been for ages and ages. I think that it needs to be changed, and a lot of my still-Catholic friends agree with me, but making fun of a feeble old man’s name isn’t going to help that.

      • Amanda

        I totally agree with you. I support equal rights 100% and disagree with many of the church’s teachings. However I still consider myself a Catholic and a omg voted for Obama (as did about 50% of Catholics, more than any other Christian religion). I wish Blisstree would stop equating all religion with the right-wing nuts. And I agree that it is particularly shameful to criticize Pope Benedict during what is certainly a difficult and sorrowful time for him. Comments and behavior such as yours, Elizabeth, are what lead so many religious followers to think atheists are cruel and rude.

    • Melissa

      I think this article is the final straw with Blisstree and me. Between the dozens of ads and pop-ups, the pseudo-feminist rage and hypocrisy (let’s criticize Daily Mail for body snarking as we fill the page with body snarking articles of our own!), and now this tasteless crowing over the retirement of an 83 year old (very holy) man. I can take you crashing my computer with bullshit (thanks for “best kept stock secret,” annoying ad in the corner!), making me feel bad about my body, and giving way too many recipes for kale, but I am drawing the line at having my religion bashed. In a way, Ms. Brown, you make atheists look bad here too. Instead of arriving at atheism as a rational conclusion, you sound like someone who is mad at the church and just wants to whine about it.

      • http://twitter.com/enbrown Elizabeth

        Yep. My entire views on theology and arrival at them are totes knowable and apparent in this semi-serious 500 word blog post.

      • http://blisstree.com/ Carrie Murphy

        Wait. Where are the bodysnarking articles?