Ratz, a New Pope

Joseph Ratzinger -- not to be mistaken for John Ratzenberger, who played Cliff on "Cheers"-- was elected the new Pope by the conclave of cardinals on Tuesday, April 19, 2005. Ratzinger took the name Pope Benedict XVI.

American Catholics, who are often referred to as "cafeteria Catholics" because of their inclination to pick and choose which parts of the faith they want to follow, didn't seem too thrilled with the choice. Ratzinger is considered a religious conservative and American Catholics hoped for a Pope who was more willing to look the other way when unmarried couples fornicate or when others spit all over God's word by taking the vows "until death do us part" and then divorcing.

The good news for American Catholics can be heard in idle chatter around their gathering grounds, like churches and brew pubs. They whisper while looking around: "Thank God he's 78-years-old. He won't last long and we'll have a chance to get somebody in there who will let us have pre-marital sex AND enjoy it."

For all the right-wing fervor in the U.S., American Catholicism is little more than a doctrinal joke to followers in the rest of the world. The "cafeteria" moniker might as well apply to all religions in America be it whatever type of Christian, Jew, Muslim, or what have you. Americans want the version of religion that allows them to do whatever the hell they want and have God love them, forgive them, and condemn the neighbors to eternal hellfire when THEY do something wrong so that heaven isn't populated by anybody the "good people" don't like.

The mantra for American religion is "do what I say, not what I do." Be it Jerry Falwell or Tom Delay or the legion of child-molesting priests, we're so far past the hypocritical threshold that it's sometimes hard to imagine that there are people in the world for whom religion isn't simply a justification for trying to make the lives of others miserable.

American Catholics and the rest of the religious folks in America might actually get some respect if they lived by the Pope's example. I think the Pope believes that there are some pretty stringent rules for admission to the kingdom of heaven. However, until those of you who are so-called "pro-faith" obey your own fucking rules and make even the most flimsy attempt to live in accordance with the example set by Jesus Christ, the rest of us aren't likely to respect you anytime soon.


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