So apparently we’re getting a new Pope. Not that the current one died or anything, he just thinks he’s getting a little too mentally frail to be up to the task. The task of… sitting in a chair and pretending to be infallible. This is obviously a poor excuse, after all frailty or madness hardly stopped any of the other Popes from trying to brainwash the world with their particular brand of crazy, and even the last Pope to resign only did so because of scandal. Pity there wasn’t a handy storehouse of scandals that poor doddery old “Benedict” could latch onto as an excuse, imagine if he could claim that he used to be in the Hitler youth, or that he covered up multiple accounts of child abuse, or that he was just faking it all or something. Now that would be headline news. But no, he’s had enough so he’s packing it in to write a book or something. About time too, I could do with a new doorstop after I used George Bush’s autobiography to make paper mache Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Strangely, what some news outlets are focussing on at this time is the fact that the St Peter’s Basilica was struck by lightning only hours after the Pope’s announcement that he was resigning. I find myself very confused as to why on earth this is considered news. Well, to be honest, I find it difficult enough to comprehend why a textually unnecessary head of a sensationally misguided wing of a religion I no longer subscribe to stepping down is news either, but I understand that some people might find it mildly interesting seeing as Big Brother is over and Game Of Thrones isn’t back until the end of March. But why is lightning striking the Vatican newsworthy? Last time I looked, Catholics worshipped some form of Yahweh, not an amalgamation of Zeus and Thor. My Bible knowledge is struggling to find an example of God chucking a lightning bolt to get his point across.
And anyway, isn’t lightning from a deity supposed to be a bad thing? Like, a big “Hey you, stop dicking about or the next one will hit your head” kind of thing? Are we saying that God is displeased with the Pope’s resignation? Did he want him to die while still on the job? “Aw shucks, he’s not supposed to retire until the aneurysm I gave him pops in his head” Or is God so monumentally thrilled with Joseph Ratzinger’s time in office that this is a divine version of shouting “Encore!” at the end of a play?
Interestingly enough, lightening is a totally idiotic weapon for a god to use, at least in this day and age. One would have thought than an omniscient being would have foreseen the invention of the lightning conductor. “What is this devilry? They seem to be defying me with some sort of metal rod!” Aaaand this brings us round to the part where science takes over and says that a) if God really did have something to say in the form of a lightning bolt regarding the Pope’s resignation, he was quite a few hours too late – perhaps he was on the wrong time zone? and 2) It is no strange miracle of nature that lightning strikes a humongous metal rod sticking up high into the sky in the middle of a storm. It is no more surprising that it struck more than once because it is a myth that lightning strikes the same place only once.
Yet now we come to the hit reality TV show “Vatican’s Next Top Pope” or “Vatican’s Got Talent”. Let’s hope that the next Holy Father manages not to fall into the trap of praying for Africa’s “poor, sick and needy” while telling them not to wear condoms to stop AIDS, waving a solid gold incense burner about, gripping a six foot tall gold cross, and sitting on a golden throne while heading an international organisation estimated to be worth trillions of pounds.