A (personal) commentary on the funeral of the Pope
Given the lack of objectivity and the generally maudlin sentimentality surrounding commentaries in the media surrounding the death of this Pope (with a few exceptions here and there) I decided that perhaps I would write a brief commentary on this funeral myself, having watched the whole extended affair, because I need an antidote.
I do not have cable, because I don't watch television, and last night all three of our over the air channels carried live coverage of the funeral of the Pope, so you had a choice of three different feeds. One feed, on the channel that typically just pipes up an American feed, usually from Fox, featured coverage of the funeral, with no commentary that I heard, the idea being I would suppose that it was thus supposed to be just like being there, and if you were there, you would not have any talking heads narrating the funeral. That feed seemed quite dignified, and really atypical for media coverage of big events. I switched over to our national public broadcaster, the CBC, where I stayed for the rest of the evening, and was subjected to several hours of commentary on the funeral, much as you would get commentary on a golf tournament, or something like that, from one of our most famous die hard catholic conservative broadcasters who was brought on board by the CBC to provide the 'color commentary' for the Pope's funeral.
Somehow getting the real die hard catholic conservative point of view concerning that funeral, and that pope, seemed strangely appropriate, so I resisted the urge to change channels and instead decided to soak it all in. It was unbearable, to tell the truth, and it was even more unbearable thinking about how damned embarrassing it was for two of our best known Canadian anchors to be forced to participate in a three hour long attempt to spin doctor the pope, Catholicism in general, and just hopefully get everyone to convert over to conservative Roman Catholicism, as well they should, especially at a time like this when the Pope is dead, thus making it an opportune time to convert more Catholics, or so it would seem.
Yes, my review of the coverage of the Pope's funeral on the CBC is that it was just unbearable, but however, looking on the brighter side of things, it was probably greatly enjoyed by that small fraction of the Roman Catholic community who rather than having a problem with that Pope, thought that finally the church was returning to the Middle Ages like it should, and thus had a problem with other Catholics instead of having a problem with that Pope which is the case for the majority of Catholics around here.
You would have had a hard time gleaning that fact from that heavily biased Pope coverage, though, where as I recall, on one particular occasion we were told that when that Pope came into office, many people were unsure whether or not that was a good idea, but now that it is the Pope's funeral, it suddenly becomes crystal clear that this Pope was not only a very good idea, indeed he was a giant, towering over history, a true giant among men, and truly now it has become obvious that far from being a questionable idea that this Pope was in fact revealed to all people everywhere as a great Gift from God. Normally it takes the Vatican about one hundred years to make a Saint, although that rule seems to have relaxed quite a bit by this last Pope, who was in such a big hurry to canonize every single neglected previously dead Catholic Conservative that making a saint was shortened to just taking years, although the truth be told it could have taken just a few days, except that appearances must be kept up, and so first it would mentioned that some really conservative Catholic was beautiful, and then there would be a seemly delay of a few years and then they would become Saints. Well, we were told, given how this Pope was truly a great giant among humanity, as shown by how George Bush and Clinton spent 15 minutes on their knees praying at the foot his coffin before the funeral, due to overwhelming popular demand, the Vatican is thinking of just putting aside that rule about waiting to make someone a Saint and just go right ahead as soon as possible and make this Pope a Saint, something which I am sure would bring on every single network and take up a full week or two of nonstop television coverage, due to the great upswelling of the public demanding that this Pope be made into a Saint, and right now, too, without delay. Already, all throughout the funeral crowd, the dead Pope, with the help of the Mother, the Virgin Mary, was performing miracle after miracle, as the reports of these miracles were just pouring in, fueling the unstoppable demand that the Pope be made a Saint immediately. That would not include Cardinal Ratzinger's brother who was one of the first to be wheeled up in a wheel chair to take communion after the funeral, but then Mary works in mysterious ways, and I am sure that there must have been a good reason to perform a miracle cure on somebody other than Cardinal Ratzinger's disabled brother, or so it would seem.
As I was saying, I really felt sorry for those CBC anchors were to get stuck covering the world's biggest Catholic funeral with their coanchors being the world's biggest Catholics, as you could tell from that on running color coverage of the event. As bad as that funeral was (and it was definitely the worst funeral I have ever been to) I thought what topped it off was having a die hard Catholic woman commentary express the extreme pleasure women felt everywhere when they saw the dominating role given to Cardinal Ratzinger at that funeral. Yah. Well. Not on this planet. But as we were told, Cardinal Ratzinger is one of the kindest, most tender, and most tragically misunderstood figures at the Vatican, this misunderstanding of what a nice person he is probably resulting, I would think, from the fact that nice as he is he still cannot resist the urge to pick up a pen from time to time and write something, a bad habit he has which just ruins his reputation, thus leading to him being misunderstood, although surely everyone understood what he wrote that time, which is what makes him so damned unpopular, so it is hard to see how anyone could suggest that his is 'misunderstood', unless it proves to the be the case that he just cannot get his thoughts down on paper correctly thus creating that problem he's got. You see, maybe the really die hard Catholics of the world, and those in the Vatican, are unable to understand that as nice and friendly and charming and shy and humble (and the list goes on) as Ratzinger really is in real life, he sounds like a fire breathing dragon to those who are not die hard Catholics themselves, and thus do not have that blind spot that cause some people to miss that simple fact of life. And that way he has of sounding unbearably arrogant, intolerant and dogmatic in the truest Catholic sense of the word, well that dragon sound is the source of his image problem, whatever fine qualities the man might possess as an individual.
Now speaking of Cardinal Ratzinger, you can tell that he is in the running to become the next Pope, given his Pope like standing at that funeral. He sat separate from all the other Bishops, on a kind of throne, and then they had this long line of Catholic lay people come and then kneel down before him. Ratzinger's throne was at center stage, with all the other unimportant Bishops and Cardinals seated off on the wings on either side of Ratzinger's throne. Then a line of people would come up two by two to bow down and kneel before Ratzinger's throne for some creepily weird reason. Who the hell knows what that was supposed to be about, or just how Ratzinger managed to beat out all the other cardinals and bishops of the world to get the lead starring role at the Pope's funeral (he also got to the swinging of the incense ceremony, and lots of the other rituals, when he wasn't perched on his central throne). The whole time of course we were being reminded by our catholic commentators of what a fine, loving, gentle, kind individual Ratzinger here, and how tragically misunderstood he has become, not to mention being reminded of how thrilled the women of the world were to see the central focus of the Pope's funeral being handed over to Cardinal Ratzinger, as clear a message as you can get from the Vatican these days (what it means is that even if Ratzinger cannot somehow get himself put in as Pope, it will someone jsut like Ratzinger, and when you think of it that way, well it might as well be Ratzinger, since no matter who is getting in as Pope, the Catholics will be getting Ratzinger anyways. This was the clear message of the Pope's funeral, thus making lots and lots of pro-Catholic spin doctoring on the fine qualities of Cardinal Ratzinger absolutely necessary, since, as everyone knows he is real unpopular, and as badly as he wants to be Pope, as you can tell, and as comfortable as he already is with that thing of being on a throne and bowed before and so, no one likes him, which is a real serious handicap for a Pope, even if it is true that the policies of Cardinal Ratzinger are the policies of the dead Pope, to whom Ratzinger was one of his closest aides. And so I guess the idea must be if that Pope could get away with it, well why not Cardinal Ratzinger.
One ongoing theme of the color commentary of that funeral, was the dramatic effect the Pope's funeral was already having on the young people of the world, who, being greatly moved and touched both by the way the Pope refused to retire and instead suffered like Christ, and also by the great pomp of a real Roman Catholic funeral, were even now flocking back to the church, and thus no doubt, inspired by the example of the last Pope, would finally decide to go cold turkey on the sex, thus solving that really bad problem the Catholic church has been unable to solve for the last 25 years, the problem of having a severe shortage of priests, the problem compounded by the fact that the Catholic church has lots of really old priests who like the Pope, keep in dying off, thus making the problem worse and worse all the time. Given how the Catholics of the world will be getting Ratzinger as Pope, or some clone of Ratzinger, we can tell already that this is one problem that won't be solved anytime soon. Speaking, as I am, from the trenches you might say, I can assure everyone that there is no way that there is a great upsurge in interest in celibacy or Roman Catholic hostility towards sex, quite the contrary really, a fact which is born out by those statistics showing how Catholics get abortions and divorces and premarital sex and so on, at rates marginally higher than those of the general population. IN the small town I grew up there was not enough population to support a Catholic High School, so we all went to High School together, an interesting experience, since I found myself getting cracked with a ruler by nuns, and not being Catholic myself, this sort of thing was a really new experience for me. But that's another story altogether. Let's just say that if you wanted to find out who was the Catholic, well you would have to ask, since it wasn't the case that Catholics were never to found at parties and so on, thus distinguishing themselves somehow from everyone else.
Well the Pope's funeral is over, and now the Machiavellian plotting and scheming must start, as all those really conservative Cardinals appointed by the point try to quash any opposition from those who might try to block Ratzinger's ascent to the papacy, that is, if there is any opposition left, you know, what with that last Pope having been in for close to 25 years, and having started at such a young age compared to all those dead Cardinals he was thus able to replace. By the way, speaking of diplomacy, and Machiavellian politics, just which candidate for Pope is in favor with Washington. It is a well known fact that Washington takes a great interest in getting some kind of Pope into power who will help out with 'the war against Terrorism', although given how Catholics have learned from experience over the last twenty five years with the last Pope and with Ratzinger, not to listen to the Pope and to just ignore the Vatican and treat the place as irrelevant, it remains in question just how useful getting the right Pope would prove to be with Washington. I just bring the matter up since it would appear that Washington got the 'right Pope' to help bring down the Soviet Union the last time it was time to choose a Pope, and so it makes one wonder how things will turn out this time. (Just what is Ratzinger's position on 'the New American Century'?)
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