Pope Benedict XVI resigned on Monday, which seemed like an odd thing to do, considering a Pope's resignation usually goes hand-in-hand with the day they stop breathing. (Also, how do you resign to God? If that guy throws a hissy fit, the whole world is fucked.) But his health is apparently ailing, and it must be tiring wearing lots of heavy gold, living in a palatial mansion, and waving at people from a mobile bulletproof box.
We wondered whether anyone in London, historically not a place that bothers itself much with Catholicism, knew or cared about the Pope's resignation. We went out to ask them.
Fernando, store manager: Wow, I had no idea. I think it's good, isn’t it? There's so much bullshit in the Vatican, you know? Even the Italians don’t like the pope. England is Protestant, so that shows they have some wisdom for not liking the pope from the beginning. Are they going to put a new one out or just shut down the Vatican?
No, I don't think they'll shut down the Vatican. He resigned because he's old and in bad health. What do you think about having a younger pope?
I heard that the Vatican is a breeding ground for those old guys who have sex with children. Pedophiles. I'm from Brazil and heard that two Brazilian priests who were accused of pedophilia were sent to Italy. Now, the Vatican looks after them. So if they elect a younger one, take your kids off the street, because an 85-year-old can't have sex with many children, but if you're 50 or 60, you can screw more kids.
Do you think the world would be better off without the pope?
I think we should put some explosives in the Vatican. We should destroy it. It should be shut down. It's 2013, you know? People know that all this church stuff is just bullshit.
In an ideal world, who would be the pope?
SpongeBob. He could save the children and keep them safe!
Hugh, retail: Yeah, I know. Crazy. The last resignation was in, like, the Middle Ages. The 1400s or something. I'm quite scared of the pope. There are all these huge statues of past popes in Rome, so he's always going to be quite influential, isn't he?
I suppose he is. Do you think the next pope should be a bit younger?
Well, this latest pope wasn't very progressive. And it isn't a good thing for someone so backwards to have such a huge influence in Catholicism. Like his stance on contraception, for example. We were hoping that he was going to be a bit more forward-thinking on that.
Who should be the next pope?
In an ideal world, Oprah Winfrey. She's compassionate, can talk to people, and make people cry. She'll just break you down, understand you, and get you thinking about the world. And it fits with the modern idea: A woman! A powerful black woman!
Right on, Hugh.
Tim, restaurateur: That's probably not a bad thing. I mean, he is a bit old. I remember when I was in France five years ago, watching when the smoke came out of the chimney on TV. Everyone seemed to be fairly happy about that 80-year-old being pope then, but come on, it didn't make any sense to me that someone so old would be given such a position.
So you're happy about his resignation?
Yeah, it's good, and I think there should be a younger pope. I don’t think there should be a cutoff age for the pope, but religion should catch up with the rest of the world, just like France. Seeing a 25-year-old pope would be too young, but just like an American president shouldn’t be 65 or 80, neither should the pope. You wouldn’t want the prime minster to be 85 years old, would you?
No, not really. So who do you think the next pope should be?
I don’t know. I’m not Catholic, but I guess the Catholic religion needs a pope, just like any organized religion, company, or group needs a leader.
Juliette, filmmaker: It’s irrelevant to my life. It doesn’t affect me at all. Does it affect you? Probably not.
Well, I guess a few people are saying it’s a good thing he's resigned because then perhaps the next pope will be more progressive.
Or more backwards. Is the Catholic Church even relevant to Britain? No. I'd say the amount of Catholicism in this particular area is minimal. Go to South America. They may have some proper opinions about his resignation because Catholicism there is like a life force. But I doubt you'll get many people who are actually that bothered by it around here.
OK, lady. So I'm guessing you don't think there's even any need for a pope?
No, I don’t think there's any need for organized religion. I think it just causes destruction, death, and conflict. It's archaic. Why do we need bishops, rabbis, or whatever they have in mosques? There's no need. It's just detrimental to society.
Laura, bartender: To be honest, I’m not really that bothered. I mean, they're going to find someone else. I think his decision is probably right. If he's physically not capable then what’s the point? It’s kind of his job and his mission, so he can’t do it if he feels at a spiritual or physical loss.
Would you like to see a younger pope next?
Yeah, but you couldn't have someone who's, like, 20 or 30, obviously. I'm not religious, so I don't really care, but people who are should want someone who can actually communicate rather than just waving from the Popemobile and not being able to even smile because he's too old and in too much pain.
Who would you want to be pope in an ideal world?
In an ideal world, I wouldn’t have a pope at all. I’m not really into this type of religious thing. People should have their own values, morals, and want to be nice to each other. At the end of the day, we're all people. We all do good and bad things at some point in our lives. We don’t need someone to judge us, we just need someone to help us.
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