A friend of mine asked me what is all the fuss about the Pope? Most of us (the British) are totally disconnected from religion...what is the point caring who is elected a new Pope?
As much as I hate writing about religion, here are my views on this. I can write one can I even though I am not a Christian (even if I was I would not be Catholic)? Well here is what my two pence is worth:
The Catholic church has more than one billion members worldwide of which 113 million of them resides in Asia and 282 million in Europe. Now, that is one hell a lot of people. In statistical terms it means that there is a Catholic for every six people walking on this blessed planet.
The Church is divided into various factions too. On the left we have the liberals who are not homophobic, are pro-choice, advocates euthanasia and probably on drugs too. Next we have those in the middle like the dead Pope who was ultra-conservative but equally modern. Finally we have the Christian right whose views are deeply conservative who if given a choice would strip women of their rights and cast all gays into prisons while burning me as a 'heretic'. There are so many views on how to run the Catholic Church and I suggest you ask a more open-minded Catholic friend who happens to know the politics of the Vatican.
So what has this whole issue got to do with us? Well for starters, whoever is elected Pope could actually sway World opinion. On the front we were given some choices by the media on whether the next Pope would be from Africa. Any hope that an African Pope would bring in a more progressive view to the Church is sadly out of the question. I have many Catholic friends from Africa and their views on the World are totally backwards. Cardinal Francis Arinze who is the front runner for a African papacy has been described as a conservative.
Coming from a progressive Asian-Muslim country and now living in a liberal Western society, I was raised as a Buddhist with Confucius values and then teared it all up when I came to Britain. Buddhism in Malaysia is a little different. Rather than a way of life, it is a worshipping religion where one frequently pray towards the Goddess Kwan-Yin. Praying for what? Pray for money that's what!
Anyway as you can see I was brought up in 'fake' Buddhism. Well I should not call it fake. Each religion takes its own form in different country. My ancestors probably came from a certain part of China which believes in these things. Just like Christianity.
Okay back to the Pope...My point is no matter who is elected Pope, this new Pope would be the head of the most powerful sub-religion in the World. Two leading architects in the illegal war on Iraq - Tony Blair and Dubya, both happens to be Catholic.
The Christian right has in recent times managed to hijack the news media to further their cause. The issue surrounding Terri Schiavo should never have been broadcasted outside the United States and certainly should not have been politicalized. The United States senate even attempted to muzzle the rule of law to further their political careers all in the name of religion.
I do not care much about religion but I do know that religion plays a role in my everyday life here. Whatever I do, whatever I watch has moral consequences that have conservaticism breathing down my neck all the time. You see I am not a Catholic, am not a Catholic...so please please leave me alone to do whatever I want. Do not pass laws barring my freedom.
Here's hoping the next Pope would be more open-minded and more liberal. Advocate condom use for safe sex. Approve of divorce. Hell even the future king of England and defender of the Church is a divorcee so what is wrong with that? Women's lack of equality in the Chuch must be stopped and so are the attack on gays/lesbians.
By the way, Waterstone has a sale on the blasphemous Da Vinci Code novel. At £3.50 it is a cheap way of reading a poorly written thriller now.