Here's one of the many reasons Pope Benedict XVI hilariously abdicating his throne is a big deal:
Among the many beliefs that members of the Catholic Church hold is one of papal infallibility. This means that if you're a Catholic, you do whatever the pope says. Pope says birth control's the work of the devil, you say it too. Pope hates gay marriage, that's your opinion as well. Pope only wants people to sing that shitty song by fun. at karaoke, his will shall be done. The papacy is not the place for debates or democracy. He's the Godfather, and all Catholics are Luca Brasi. This belief in a pope's infallibility is relatively new, only coming into official definition during the First Vatican Council of 1870. So Benedict's resignation is the first instance the church has had to deal with the possibility of two people holding infallibility at the same time. The whole thing is, well, troublesome. You certainly can't have two people running around with infallibility. If they ever said sentences containing different words you'd theologically get yourself into one of those time-traveler-meeting-their-younger-self, rip-in-the-fabric-of-space-time scenarios. So the Church took the easy way out: “Don't worry,” they said. “We're just going to pass along infallibility to the next one.” Now this may not seem like a big deal, especially to those of us living in places where we vote people out of power all the time. Except we're not talking about someone making political decisions here. We're talking about a person who was put in the position because God deemed him worthy. We're talking about someone in charge of the moral conduct of 1.1 billion people. Now, all of a sudden if this person's unimpeachable authority is impeachable, it kind of cheapens the whole thing. This is but one of the innumerable chips and cracks in the papal armor that are going to make it extremely hard to take the next guy seriously, no matter how much the College of Cardinals make sure they don't pick someone who looks like pure evil this time around.
On to the roundup! - The Foursquare Church, a Christian-based denomination that's been in Los Angeles for the past nine decades, has been spending the past few years trying to produce a Broadway musical. Penned by Kathie Lee Gifford (yep, that one), “Scandalous” told the story of the church's famed founder Aimee Semple McPherson. And it ran for one month and then the show was canned. Some people in the church believe the entire production cost about $2 million bucks. - Iran is reportedly installing advanced centrifuges at their main uranium-enrichment facility, surely making the residents of Israel all sorts of nervous. Speaking of Israel, they confirmed they imprisoned an Australian-Israeli back in 2010 under a false name for “security reasons.” The prisoner ended up killing himself.
- A Tibetan monk in his early 20s set himself on fire to protest Chinese rule in Tibet, making him the 100th case of self-immolation in the past four years.
- A NATO airstrike in Afghanistan killed at least three Taliban commanders along with at least ten civilians, mostly women and children. - In Thailand, a group of about 60 Muslim insurgents tried to pull off a predawn raid on a military base. Unfortunately for the insurgents, someone leaked their plans and the military pretty easily dispersed it, killing 16 in the process. - A Russian cleric thinks the insane meteorite that hit the country is a sign that we should all start praying to God. Instead of, you know, using that time to work harder on developing space-junk-tracking technology. - In Pakistan, a bomb targeting a Shiite Muslim community went off, leaving at least 79 dead. - The Egyptian government ordered that the county's access to YouTube be blocked for 30 days in order to protect people's eyes from that whole anti-Islam Innocence of Muslims thing. Which, somehow, is still a story? - A man in Downey, California is being accused of buying ads in local papers claiming to be a “spiritual advisor,” setting up meetings with women to give them some insight into this crazy thing we call life, and then sexually assaulting them. - Here's a fun list of band names that are banned by a heavy-metal radio show at a Catholic college. - This is from a few weeks ago, but it feels wrong to not mention it: A Canadian documentary filmmaker who claimed to find two nails used in the crucifixion of Jesus has filed a million-dollar lawsuit against an archaeologist who called the whole thing bullshit. It should be noted, the filmmaker has previously made numerous docs about discovering religious artifacts that were, in fact, bullshit.
- Did you watch Mea Maxima Culpa, Alex Gibney's documentary about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, yet? You should. If you haven't, here are a few interviews with Gibney.
- A teacher in the small Indiana community of Sullivan called for a “traditional prom” which would ban gay students. Reasons for the ban set forth by the teacher include “people chose to be gay” and “gays have no purpose in life.”
- Speaking of teachers gone wild, a male instructor at a Catholic high school in Anaheim (the home of Disneyland!) has been accused of posing as a hot gal on Facebook to get young boys to send him shots of their nubile genitals. - And Our Person of the Week: Lest I give you the impression that all teachers are terrible, there's Mike Moroski, the dean of student life at a Catholic high school in Ohio. He wrote on his Facebook page that he believes gay people should be allowed to marry. “Ethically, morally, and legally I believe this,” he said. Eventually, his higher-ups found out about the post and gave him an ultimatum: Take down the post, recant your statements, keep your job. Moroski didn't and was fired. Good job, standing up for what you believe in, sir.
Previously - Art Imitates Life, Then Gets You Killed by Fanatics