What Does The Pope’s Resignation Mean For Us?

Yesterday Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, sparking shock among his followers, speculation about successor by media outlets and feelings of extreme “so what” among non-Catholics. While many of us in the United States and Europe hear, if anything, news of closing Catholic schools and churches without priests, the news may in fact have more of an impact than we realize.

The current pope’s reign has meant a number of changes for members of the Church – especially liturgical changes such as showing “restraint” during the sign of peace and a new interpretation of the wording used during mass in the English-speaking world. But the reach of the pope goes beyond the pew. His example sets the tone for Catholics world-wide and with the world Catholic population staying at a steady 17% over the past 50 years, the number of Catholics is undeniably growing. In the global south in particular, the number of Catholics has soared.

As ThinkProgress has noted, the pontiff has used Catholic social teaching to encourage Catholics to work for a healthier environment with special attention paid to poor nations, a fair economy though unions and wealth redistribution, universal health care and immigration reform in the United States.

At the same time, though, his legacy has been harmful for women, LGBT people and other marginalized populations. In his last mass before he was elected pope, the  then Cardinal spoke against the “dictatorship of relativism.” In a way this homily set the tone for his papacy, which was markedly conservative and often criticized as being intolerant and even disastrous. Lacking the charisma and delicacy of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI often made missteps in his visits with leaders of and speech about other religions. In a 2007 visit to Brazil, he told Bishops that native South Americans had been “silently longing” for Christianity and that their conversion purified their culture. Though a week later he spoke about the “unjustifiable crimes” perpetrated to facilitate the conversion, the controversy was reminiscent of 2006’s insensitive remarks on Islam. When the Pope decided to remove restrictions on Priests who wished to say mass in the original Latin, his decree did not remove the inclusion of a prayer that calls to “deliver [Jews] from darkness.”

With over 20 million Africans living with HIV/AIDS and Catholicism on the continent having grown 33% from 2000 to 2010, the Pope’s position on condoms is especially relevant. In 2010, he moderated his stance by announcing that “There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility.” This change opened doors for aid workers to reach Catholic communities, but his example of a male prostitue as a condom user prompted anger from officials and groups who were concerned that faithful Catholics would continue to refuse condoms out of a desire to separate themselves from immoral people (like prostitues) who used condoms.


Although different, the pope’s legacy in the United States is just as palpable. His continued condemnation of birth control has lead to a standoff between American bishops and the Obama administration. And let’s not forget the American nuns. In 2012, the pontiff issued a reprimand to members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for promoting “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.” Finally, his take on homosexuality has been viewed by many as a step back. While Catholic doctrine is, essentially, “love the sinner hate the sin” with bigger words thrown in for good measure, the pope seems to view us more darkly. As the author of “On The Pastoral Care Of Homosexual Persons,” he asserted that, “Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.” The pope has also taken a few seemingly-unrelated opportunities – such his most recent Christmas speech – to reaffirm his opposition to homosexuality.

With a new pope expected to be elected before Easter, the question becomes who he will be. Potential cardinals include Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna and  Marc Ouellet, the Canadian head of the Vatican’s office for bishops. With nearly 40% of the world’s Catholic population residing in Latin America, many are hoping to see a pope from somewhere outside Europe. While at this point it’s all speculation, one thing is certain: Pope Benedict XVI’s presence will be felt during the election. Though he won’t be directly involved in the decision-making, the pope appointed 67 of the 118 cardinals who convene to decide on his sucessor.

Though it’s unlikely that we’ll see much change from the Catholic Church after the election, it’s important that we have at least a passing familiarity with one of the most influential men on the planet. As queers, many of us find ourselves alienated by conservative religion and struggle to see its impact on our daily lives. Yet by educating ourselves about what we don’t understand or believe and seeking out conversations with queer-uninformed people, we find new allies who can work to change the church from the inside out.

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Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

Laura has written 308 articles for us.


  1. I don’t know if I see the pope’s rigidity, particularly when it comes to reaching out to other religions, as a bad thing. With that combined with the child abuse scandal in the church, it has limited his impact on worldwide policies with sexual health – unlike Pope John Paul II, who because of his charm and ability to reach out to other religions, was able to have far too much of an influence on worldwide reproductive health policy despite his anti-choice, anti-gay views.

    The Vatican isn’t going to advance that far (though, hopefully, they can finally get around their birth control woes that they almost abandoned with Vatican II). It’s better that those of us who care about women’s and LGBT rights have a Pope who has less appeal rather than more.

    • I agree and disagree. I went to a Catholic high school in a very Catholic city (and am not Catholic) so from an insular point of view, I want a pope who encourages his followers to see the value in other beliefs.

      But I see what you mean about the danger of charisma when what they’re trying to spread is not such a good thing.

    • I fear that as long as Catholic Church charities remain some of the biggest providers of health care in the developing world (if I remember the statistics well, 1 in 4 AIDS patients get treatment through Caritas), the Pope’s views will remain very influential on a global scale / outside the Catholic Church, whether he reaches out to other religions or not.

  2. Thanks for writing this. I was raised Jewish and never really understand anything about Christianity. I probably should educate myself but until then… I would love an update on how the next pope will view issues of interest.

  3. I remember when John Paul II was still the Pope, everyone said it was right that even with his precarious physical and mental health he had to continue as leader of the catholic church. based on an awful phrase: if Jesus didn’t got off the cross, neither will the pope.

    obviously Jesus didn’t got off the cross because he was nailed down and tortured-allegadly- so he had no choice.

    now with this pope’s resignation we have another statement radically different: the pope is courageous and honest.


    • With John Paul II, people just made excuses because it was unprecedented; nobody’s resigned since the end of the Western Schism in the 15th century. Now that somebody’s done it, they’ve realized “oh wait it’s not a big deal.”

    • But for serious, JPII was in rough shape but I loved him.

      Granted I’m half Polish and clearly biased, but I think he’s one of the best popes the world has ever seen. Not that he was anywhere near perfect, which I clearly understand–but I think he was way better for the church and Benny has swung it back in the other direction (for example, hunting down gays in seminaries? worst.)

      So I’m torn between “but seriously JPII could handle it” and “good riddance I never liked you anyway.”

      Side note, this is a completely different reason than other papal resignations–there are no rival claimants on the papacy, there’s no controversy as to Benedict’s election, etc.

      In fact, this could be really awful for the church because having more than one pope has created ALL KINDS OF PROBLEMS (There was a crazy schism during the 14th and 15th century, when there were coreigning popes in Avignon and Rome). It was really complicated. And does he stop having his magic pope powers? Is he still infallible? ALL THE THEOLOGICAL QUESTIONS.

      • In high school I sneakily won a mock legal trial by calling the pope as a witness and then using his infallibility to shut down any objections from my opposition- it was awesome!

      • Oh interesting thoughts!! Who’s infallible now? What if in 3 years Benny wants to make some kind of edict and new Pope doesn’t agree?

        I mean, I’m United Methodist, but it’s pretty interesting to me!

        • It is weird. To be fair, the doctrine of papal infallibility is not what people think it is–the pope is only infallible when he speaks “ex cathedra,” or “from the chair,” and I think there have only been two since the doctrine of papal infallibility was confirmed (the Assumption of Mary and the Immaculate Conception, in case anyone is curious).

          Most popes never make a pronouncement ex cathedra, but seriously, if Benny tried to after he depopes (a very technical term) it would throw the Catholic church into total chaos.


          • Interesting! Me and my roommate were just wondering last night what this does to papal infallibility.

          • Thank you for this. I was indeed curious and so I looked them up. One day I will look further in to how doctrine comes about. I also thought the Pope was infallible, and pretty much the voice of God on earth.

          • I am now going to try and use the word Depopes as much as possible. Like when you expect someone to stay for the long haul but they bail.

            “I thought she was my soulmate but she freaking depoped on me!” Wait. Maybe that is not something I say out loud. Like ever.

  4. As a formerly extremely devout ex-cradle-Catholic who finally left in large part because that racist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, rape-apologist, Darth-Sideous-looking gaffe machine was such a fucking embarrassment to progressive Catholics, I can only say: good riddance. I wish I had enough psychological distance from the church by now for a massive”So what,” but there it is.

  5. And fuck his predecessor too. I don’t care how popular he was; the fucker codified it into by-definition immutable church law that women and trans* men should not ever be allowed join the clergy, and so should be denied any decision-making power for the church. Why? Because Jesus was a penis-having man. That’s the actual reasoning.

    • As a Polish-American I feel obligated to like John Paul II at least a LITTLE bit, if only because of its effect on the Polish community; for example, stereotyping Polish people as stupid and “Polish jokes” were considered perfectly acceptable in polite company until just a few decades ago, and his appointment as Pope was one of the biggest things to help us move away from that. But I agree with you that despite him maybe seeming “progressive” compared to this Pope, he did awful things for women and LGBTs in the church. If anything, as I posted above, the fact that he was so popular and beloved and not as interested in alienated other religions meant that he was able to have way more influence on policies worldwide than Benedict has had, which can only bode poorly for us.

      • And by “its effect on the Polish community” I mean “HIS effect.” Not exactly helping those Polish stereotypes right now!

      • That’s definitely understandable. I wasnt aware of that, about the Polish jokes; as an Irish-American dumbass, I had assumed they’d stopped making them in the 50s or thereabouts. I didn’t mean to downplay the importance of his ethnic identity, and the social progress that the fact of a Polish pope brought about, and I apologize if I did that.

        • No, you didn’t diminish or dismiss anything, don’t worry! Basically my comment was that I almost entirely agree with you about John Paul II – he is vastly overrated and people give him way too much of the benefit of the doubt for not being as bad as Benedict, when his attitudes toward sexuality were pretty much the same – but my Polishness makes me like him at least A LITTLE bit for improving the perception of the Polish people worldwide.

      • I was born in Poland, and if it wasn’t for John Paul II’s support for the Solidarity movement, I would in all likelihood be stuck right now in a communist society with no hope for any LGBT rights ever. So, yes, he wasn’t good at all on women’s, gay, and trans rights, but it’s important to remember that he did make the world a lot better and more free for literally millions of people.

        • Actually, as someone who has studied Cold War history a lot (it’s one of the areas I’m specializing in as a musicologist), I have to disagree with that statement. Pope John Paul II’s support of Solidarity definitely helped, but no single person ended the Cold War, and I think his influence was a lot smaller than that of various heads of state (of states involved in the Cold War more than the Vatican was) who were involved in those conflicts. I also think the Cold War in particular is one where we can’t really focus on “Great Men” and need to recognize the impact of smaller people and smaller groups in helping to break down the Iron Curtain. The members of the Solidarity union are a great example of that.

          (Although, if you were to find one person who did the most to do so, ironically, that person would probably be Mikhail Gorbachev. Once glasnost and perestroika were introduced the end of the USSR and, by extension, the Warsaw Pact was pretty much inevitable. People were never going to be satisfied with just a little bit of freedom.)

          • And my “Great Men” statement about the Cold War is in particular relating to the end of it. I think a lot of the conflicts during it are, if anything, testament to the problem when the power is in the hands of too few people to use regional conflicts as chess pieces in their own political games (Vietnam being a good example of this, as well as lots of other “proxy” conflicts in Africa, Latin America and elsewhere in what we then called the “third world”). Which is why I’m glad that the end of it was one where the people, rather than just world leaders, played such an important role in demanding change.

          • I think just as important as glasnost and perestroika was the fact that Gorbachev abandoned the Brezhnev doctrine and allowed each country in the ‘Eastern Bloc’ to do what they want. Attempts at reforming similar to Solidarity / the Round Table Talks had been made before (e.g. the Prague Spring), but they were always stopped by the fear of Soviet invasion, or by actual Soviet invasions. Glasgnost and perestroika didn’t really have an effect in countries whose governments / communist parties had a more (neo)Stalinist bent like Romania or Czechoslovakia – besides, the change of regime took different forms in different countries, for the Czechs the fact that Hungary opened the border with Austria was really important and, like in Romania, they needed mass protests to pressure the communists into stepping down, Baltic states had the Baltic Chain and, obviously, they had not only to overthrow a communist regime but to declare themselves independent countries etc.

            Also, the relationship between LGBT rights and communist / socialist regimes is pretty complicated, most ‘Eastern Bloc’ countries actually had more ‘progressive’ legislation than the West had at the time when it came to LGBT issues. With the exception of Romania and the USSR, all ‘Eastern Bloc’ countries decriminalized homosexuality in the 60s and in some the state / communist party was even somewhat openly supportive of LGBT rights, for example, in East Germany, a state owned gay bar was opened in the 80s. And while one gay bar does not a queer liberation movement make, it does suggest that we don’t know what LGBT rights would have been like in the ‘Eastern Bloc’ if the Cold War had never ended.

          • Yeah, I agree completely, and now I feel stupid about forgetting to mention the Brezhnev doctrine (which, you’re right, had more influence on the other countries of the Eastern Bloc than glasnost and perestroika). Probably distracted when I wrote all that.

            And I totally agree with what you said about LGBT rights, and would say that that was arguably even truer with women’s rights. Every Eastern Bloc nation handled it differently, of course, but I know that in some of them, it was arguably the case that women often had opportunities (if not necessarily “rights”) than women in the “first-world” nations in the pre-second-wave-feminist era. Poland’s social policy nowadays is completely controlled by the Catholic Church, and I don’t know if when it comes to those two issues if that’s necessarily an improvement (even if it is obviously an improvement in just about every other aspect), especially if we’re talking about a hypothetical version of Eastern Bloc countries now in a world where the Cold War never ended.

            Hmmm, that makes for an interesting alternate history novel…

          • Though, one might wonder why things like that state-owned gay bar in the GDR happened. I suspect Honecker et al concluded that by letting LGB (deliberately omitting the T there, as I have no idea how the GDR government treated trans* people) be ‘public’, it would make yet another subculture be easier to monitor/police.

            Re: women’s rights/status in the GDR, I found “The People’s State” by Mary Fulbrook to be a very interesting read, especially in regards to eastern German women pre- and post-Reunification.

  6. Also: I had a really Catholic friend in high school, like, who believed in all their conservative attitudes toward sex (although she started to move away from their anti-gay attitudes after some close friends came out of the closet – not including me, btw, I didn’t come out until college after we’d drifted apart). I remember talking to her and her family when they were choosing the new Pope; even her parents were praying for “anybody but Ratzinger.” I’ve always felt like that’s a good testament to just how conservative this Pope is.

    That being said, as a musician I have mixed feelings about his seeming desire to bring the Latin mass back, since that would result in a lot of great old masses getting performed in churches again that have mostly become concert pieces since Vatican II.

  7. this is a very minor point in terms of the article (which is great), but i think the phrase “developing world” is problematic. It implies that those countries are always behind us on a path towards being “developed,” that being “developed” is a good thing that everyone in the world wants–in other words that our way of life is superior, and theirs is “backwards”–and that there are no other possible paths to take (because in reality there are many possible futures we could build together that don’t involve inequality, catastrophic climate change, drones and suicide bombs, crazy high rates of depression, prisons….). The phrase naturalizes a global system of capitalism built on a history of slavery, colonialism, and the cold war backing of dictators, so that their poverty seems like a result of their child-like inability to yet manage things like industrialization, democracy, or finance, despite all our attempts, as the adults in this imagined relationship, to help them-as opposed to their poverty being produced by the same global system that has produced our wealth (or the wealth of the rich within our national system), often at their expense. That’s why I like the phrase “global south”! Phew, sorry that was so long.

    • you’re absolutely right. i was looking for something less horrible than “third world” and mistakenly thought that “developing world” was more neutral. thank you so much for explaining to me what’s wrong with using that kind of language and not automatically assuming the worst of me. i’m going to change it right now. =)

      • This is good to know, I also previously thought “developing world” was a more neutral (and politically-accurate – “third world” is a hold over from the Cold War division of the world into “NATO countries/sympathizers, Warsaw Pact countries/sympathizers and everyone else) version, so the fact that it’s problematic is worth keeping in mind.

        • I know that we’ve gone through this discussion before on Autostraddle but I can’t remember what article it was–a lot of people (some who are sex workers) pointed out that the terms are not synonymous? Which I think is an important point.

          Also, you know, since it’s quoting someone else, I wouldn’t change it in this case.

          • yes, i remember this coming up too but couldn’t track it down. to me the quotation part is a bit unclear… is it not better to err on the side of caution around such loaded terms? not trying to be snarky here – i’m genuinely wondering.

          • i understand what you’re saying, absolutely and completely! but part of the problem with his statement was exactly in the wording (“male prostitute”) that he used so i stuck with quoting him directly. like stella says “prostitute” is a morally-charged word and “has been associated with deviance, corruption and criminality.” it seems to me that by suggesting that male prostitutes are one of the groups that might use condoms, the pope is in a way urging “good” people not to use condoms because they don’t want to be deviant like a prostitute.

        • Not to disagree with you, but the term prostitute is used in this article because it’s a quote from the Pope. It doesn’t seem necessary to misquote the Pope when the quote itself is to point out how terrible he is.

    • ..the term developed country refers to advanced economies and, unfortunately, in a capitalist world that means that only advanced economies are related to high standards of living reflected in child mortality rates and other health outcomes. anyway that’s changing! — check out this quick and insightful video on the subject! Hans Rosling: The River of Myths http://youtu.be/lYpX4l2UeZg

  8. The first conversation I ever had with someone (besides a love interest) about the fact that I might be gay was, I kid you not, in the middle of Hyde Park in front of Pope Benedict XVI while he addressed the crowd for the evening prayer vigil during his visit to England in 2010.

    Is that weird? I feel like that’s weird.

    Obviously I wasn’t paying that much attention at the time but apparently that speech also referred to “an intellectual and moral relativism [that] threatens to sap the very foundations of society”, by which I suppose he was referring to me.

    Well he’s not Pope anymore but I’m still gay, so I guess this is us winning?

  9. What Does The Pope’s Resignation Mean For Us?

    Round the clock ‘Pope Watch 2013’ on every Irish tv, radio and newspaper for the next month.

    • Hah! Same here in France. That’s the first thing that came to my mind when I heard about it – “oh no, not AGAIN!”. I wish they would pick young popes just so we would be spared the media pope madness every few years.

  10. Thank you for this! I’m so tired of hearing all my friends (especially my friends here in Mexico, who really HATE Catholicism) act like the pope doesn’t matter, just because they don’t believe in Catholicism. Of course he matters! He’s a major world figure! We should all be interested.

  11. Thank you for writing about this. I was so shocked when I read the news yesterday. I am an athiest but I know a number of Catholics and I went to a Catholic school for four and a half years. I was astounded that a man who is famous for being so conservative could break nearly 600 years of tradition and step down. How can a man supposedly so committed to his faith shun his vocation, his selection by god (please tell me if I am wrong on this, or anything else) just because is too frail. It makes sense that he should, but that just isn’t the way these things work, he’s not doing any old job, he is meant to be selected by God, how can something bestowed on him in this way just be disregarded, to me, he is the Pope and he can’t just choose otherwise. Nobody I have spoken to seems to understand the significance of his actions.

    Also, why was he suggesting that a ‘prostitute’ could wear a condom. Surely this activity would count as sex outside of marriage and therefore the church should be saying this shouldn’t be happening, not passing opinions on how it might happen. I’m confused.

    • Yea 9 years of catholic school speaking. My first thought was that he was very disrespectful. I wonder if there was some scandal inside the vatican. I wouldn’t have thought this possible otherwise.

    • i don’t totally understand the condom thing, but i read that it has something to do with the procreative ability of male/male sex (apparently when the pope talks about “male prostitutes,” he’s assuming they’ll be having sex exclusively with men). so a heterosexual married couple when one partner is HIV+ using a condom is bad because they’re preventing the sperm from getting to the egg, but a man having sex with a man can use a condom because there is no egg? see now i’m confusing myself. none of it makes any sense.

      • i think the condom thing is basically an opus dei thing: “sex is not a shameful thing; it is a divine gift, ordained to life, to love, to fruitfulness.” for them the affective and procreative dimensions of the conjugal act are an inseparable bond. so in the case of the male prostitute he treats him as a sinner and then he should take responsablity … i don’t think this is a rational statement so i can’t get to any logical conclusion on the subject…these are just ignorant and false dogmas coming from the vatican to make people feel guilty, confined, enslaved and looking for their absolution!
        there are so many deviations and incongruities from what they do and what they advocate they follow (Jesus’ image) it’s revolting…

        and on another subject of the article i just want to point out that the voluntary work although existing in the name of the catholic church is done by young people who sometimes are not even catholical but atheist or undefined or other. although it’s an essential work and linked to the catolic church we just need people to do it and i truly believe that’s in our nature to help others independent of any labels/religion we create to do it. i think that’s changing and that we have more political/religious free associations out there. (valuing more the content and less the format!)

        meanwhile Pope Benedict XVI doesn´t wear condoms but do not set apart a nice pair of prada loafers!


        great article Laura (as always!)

      • That kind of makes sense actually – if the sin of homosexual sex is that it is non procreative then there is nothing MORE wrong about then using a condom as it is already non procreative. However, like you say, none of this makes any sense. If this was the case then the rhythm method wouldn’t be pushed by the catholic church as this sex is also non procreative. Or you would be able to use a condom in conjunction with the rhythm method.(Disclaimer: the rhythm method is definitely NOT non procreative)

        I also assumed that he wouldn’t have considered the idea that women might actually want to hire a man for sex.

        • The promotion of the rhythm method as the only correct “birth control” method for everyone by the Catholic Church and other religious groups is really obnoxious to me. For one, it becomes a huge time-suck for women; you have to monitor and chart all these different things about your body every day, to make sure you know EXACTLY where you are in your cycle. And it only works if you’re someone who has naturally regular periods anyway. If your cycle is irregular, forget it.

          Not that the Vatican cares about scientific accuracy when it gets in the way of their dogma, of course. (And the fact that it’s so much work for women is probably a feature rather than a bug to them.) But I just thought I’d point that out. No knock against people who use the rhythm method, but it’s DEFINITELY not one-size-fits-all.

          • Also, it makes no sense, because you are still trying to have non-procreative sex, but somehow this one is ok. The mind boggles. Wikipedia tells me that it can be 95% effective, if you don’t mind only having sex in a 10 day window, and if you don’t like sex on your period then it’s more like a three day window. Hmm…

          • i feel all kinds of ways about the rhythm method. like, on one hand it’s encourages women to know their bodies. to make it effective, you’ve got to be taking your temperature and feeling your vaginal secretions daily so that you can figure out when you’re ovulating. on the other hand, it’s totally focused on male-pleasure because when do a lot of women desire sex the most? when they’re ovulating. when can women not have sex if they’re only using the rhythm method? when they’re ovulating.

          • It’s nice to know your body, but I fail to find something all that empowering if it requires you to pay so much attention to your body that it becomes a full-time hobby. I feel like if the point is that women are supposed to have the same amount of control over their fertility as men do, having to obsessively track and chart it really isn’t that.

            Again, no knock on women who are into that method. But that’s why it personally doesn’t feel very empowering at all to me, even if it involves “knowing your body.” Sometimes I get frustrated at how the elevation of the female body in certain strains of feminism seems to get in the way of what feels like true equality. I thought the point is that we’re supposed to transcend our bodies, transcend the ways in which their natural biological functions make us unequal to men (like the fact that men can walk away from a pregnancy they don’t want – at least, pre-child support – but the woman actually carrying the pregnancy couldn’t, pre-legal-and-safe-abortion).

            Also, it’s not like other forms of birth control can’t put you in better touch with your bodies as well. Even just taking the pill, because you get them in 28-day packs and there are different “reminder pills” you take while on your period, you usually have a pretty good idea of where you are in your cycle.

  12. I haven’t payed this much attention to the Vatican since I was in Catholic school and had to do a project on a pope of my choice. I chose the pope who exhumed his predecessor’s body and put him on trial.

      • My teacher got angry and said I should’ve focused more on the pope’s accomplishments in The Faith.
        It was either that guy (I can’t remember his name) or the De Medici pope.

  13. Honestly, I think the only major change that’s going to come is the complete lack of Palpatine jokes from here on out. And I’ll miss them, honestly.

    There may have been tiny changes in degrees of awful over the centuries, but the Catholic Church as a whole has always been pretty damn gross when it comes to queers, women, Pagans, and various powerless and dispossessed groups. Whatever old man wins Vatican Idol this time around is already deeply involved in the highest ranks of the church and is therefore already involved in all the grossness and oppression that goes on there. I don’t know how we can really expect any sort of radical change from anyone coming out of that context.

    At the end of the day, though, I’m still a Pagan and no matter what changes for members of the Church, it’s still going to be awful to me and others like me, so Darth Benedict’s resignation is meaningless to me.

  14. “…and a new interpretation of the wording used during mass in the English-speaking world. ”

    Who still doesn’t know the new words and still says “and also with you” everytime without fail? This girl.

    • It makes more sense as translated from the latin, but yeah, I can’t remember it. I can remember the latin response because my liturgical choir toured Italy when I was in undergrad and we got very used to mass in both Latin and Italian–despite the tendency we all had to fall asleep because different languages. For some reason this isn’t translating to English in my head, though.

      Granted, I’ve been to church like, twice since this happened, sooooooo.

    • They changed that?

      Mind, I haven’t been to an English mass since elementary school, and I have been puzzling over certain phrasing-changes I’ve noticed in the Hungarian mass in the few times I’ve been in the past ten years…

      • Less tongue in cheek, he’s 85 and likely in pretty poor health. His health issues are not as public as JPII’s were (JPII’s Parkinson’s was pretty obvious, and pretty severe) but I basically think that he is being sincere in just saying that he doesn’t think he has the physical and mental capacity to do the job anymore.

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