The Pope Is Gone

March 1, 2013

back of pope on final day

 photo: Gabriel Bouts AFP/Getty Images

Today was the last day on the job for Pope Benedict XVI, although a Vatican spokesperson said the former pontiff will be called “his holiness” rather than going back to being called Joseph Ratzinger.

A heap of reporters got to go to Rome to watch him leave. Then, they reported on every detail of his final address, his helicopter flight out of Vatican City, his car ride to the Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo, a small village built in the 5th century, were he will live for 2 months.


photo: one of the gardens at the ApostolicPalace at Castel Goldolfo, Alessandro Di Meo / EPA

During that time, living quarters are being prepared for him back at the Vatican, where he will return to live out his days. As one reporter (probably many) said, “As Benedict said, the Pope doesn’t have a private life. Now his private life will return.”

Ah, the poetry of it all: he will slowly fade away and meet his Maker.

However, there is another version of this story: the Pope took one look at a special investigative report on Church corruption and said: “Ach! I’m way too old for this. Let the next guy deal with the coming scandal.”

That’s the opinion of former Catholic Priest Matthew Fox. True, he was kicked out of the Catholic Church by Ratzinger himself, so perhaps this is sour grapes. (According to Fox, 104 priests were expelled by Ratzinger.)

Fox says a set of complaints were given to him in writing when he was defrocked:

Number one was that I was a feminist theologian, he [Razinger] said. I didn’t know that was a heresy.

Number two, I called God “Mother.” Well, I proved that all kinds of medieval mystics called God “Mother,” and so does the Bible, although not often enough.

Number three, I prefer “original blessing” to “original sin.” I wrote a book called Original Blessing, in which I prove that original sin—Jesus never heard of it; no Jews ever heard of it. How can you build a church in the name of Jesus on a concept which is fourth century A.D.—that is, original sin? You know what else happened in the fourth century besides original sin ideas is the church inheriting the empire. If you’re going to run an empire, original sin is a real fine dogma to promote, because it makes everyone confused about why they’re here, and so they get in line much more efficiently.

And they accused me of not condemning homosexuals, which of course I do not. Obviously, God intends homosexuals, or there wouldn’t be 8 to 10 percent of our population all over the world with this special grace.

They said I work too closely with Native Americans. Well, I do work closely with Native Americans. I’ve learned so much from Native American teachers and rituals, such as sweat lodges, sun dances, vision quests. I don’t know that that’s a heresy to—I don’t know what working too closely means.

So, those were some of the objections. And really, none of them hold water. They’re really Rorschach tests about what really freaks out the Vatican. And, of course, above all, it’s women and sex. …

Fox says documents show that Ratzinger, and the Pope before him, chose to protect the institution of the Church over protecting the children of the Church. Fox predicts that this was a fatal mistake. Plainly stated, “Will the next Pope side with the pedophiles?”

This video might be too incendiary for some people to watch. Go forth at your own risk. It’s just under 20 minutes. If you like, here’s the transcript.

This interview originally aired on Democracy Now on February 28, 2013.

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