Seneca the Younger
So the Pope took his show on the road after a brief and fervent gallop through Madrid. The press and the politicians in Spain spent all of their time bending over backwards to accommodate the King from Vatican City while the Pope exhorted his flock to be more Catholic and criticized those who aren’t Catholic. The Pope and the Church would love nothing better than to have Spain return from its tenure as a secular nation to once again embrace Catholicism as the official, state-recognized religion. You would have never known that Spain is a secular nation this past week as Pope-fever ran rampant through television and print media as well as in the halls of government. This is in a country where only 12% of the citizens bother going to mass. Old habits die hard and although most Spaniards aren’t really Catholic, they cling to the traditions of the Church much like they restore old buildings and retain ancient festivals; it’s just seen as part of their culture even if many people are now unapologetically atheist.
There have been a flood of news reports about the violent protests against the Pope. I suppose this is half-true if you consider that all of the violence was done by the police against the mostly peaceful protesters. The protesters weren’t even lashing out against the Pope so much as at their democratically-elected, secular government’s support of a religious leader at a time when austerity measures are having a negative impact on many citizens.
I saw exactly the same response from the government and the press during the recent British “royal” wedding. At no time did I hear a newscaster question the role of a monarchy in modern society. They were all too busy gushing about dresses, the Cinderella princess, and other dangerously obsequious fawnings over the royalty. I guess that you can just call me a republican. Of course that’s not the American version but someone who is in favor of a republic without clergy or monarchs. I have the same contempt for the Church as I do for the royals and generally find them all to be the enemy of the people.
The Pope’s message or messages were more of the same sort of moronic homilies we have come to expect from the Vatican decrees and encyclicals (can I trade those for a set of steak knives?) through the ages. “Pray for peace” has always been one of my favorite exhortations from Rome—as if praying is some sort of substitute for actually fucking doing something about the conditions resulting in violence and war.
Nowhere is the message passed down by the Catholic Church over the centuries more apparent than in the streets of Granada where you can’t spit without hitting some huge structure built to honor the glory of the Church. I would love to go back in time to see if there wasn’t at least a single cleric who looked around and asked, “Do we really need to build another fucking church in this city?” The Catholics had their run at running our lives and they did a completely shitty job of it. The Pope defines the current era in Spain as “a society which is increasingly confused and unstable.” Sorry to break the news to you, your Pope-liness, but things have never been better for the people of Spain, no thanks at all to Catholicism.