This month there’s an interesting article in the Atlantic about the contrasting styles of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II. While the two were very close before John Paul’s death, there were also some philosophical differences and they have very different styles. As an example, JP was very outgoing and loved nothing more than standing in front of 100,000 people in a stadium while Benedict is more cerebral and comfortable among his advisors.
Whatever. I don’t really give a rat’s ass because I think religion is all a bunch of hooey anyway. But it did lead me to check out Wikipedia’s list of popes through the ages. And that in turn led me to the entry about the Cadaver Synod, in which a dead pope was dug up 9 months after his burial and put on trial. And when I say put on trial, I mean it literally. His cadaver was dressed up in flashy pope clothes and propped up in a chair in the courtroom, and he was assigned a lawyer to defend him! Hmmm… Maybe someone shoulda asked What Would Jesus Do before doing that.
After something like this (not to mention Galileo), how can anyone credibly argue for papal infallibility? As it happens, today Pope Benedict issued his first encyclical. I’m sure there’s probably some wisdom in it, but with something like the Cadaver Synod in the papal lineage, why should we treat any pope’s writing as anything more than, you know, potentially a good idea, but no more so than the kind of advice you might get get from Dr. Phil or Deepak Chopra?