Yes, anyone can have a bad hair day. Anyone can have fun with a silly hat.
But how is that someone who is supposed to be the living representative of God on Earth looks so consistently evil?
True story: the day Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope, someone replaced his picture (not me!) on his page at Wikipedia with this one of Senator Palpatine from Star Wars. It went unchanged for some time.
It's an appropriate comparison, seeing as both men started off as champions of the underdog and became spooky-looking, power-mad tyrants. And indeed, the graphic comparison to the evil Emperor is uncomfortably apt.
Before he became Pope, Cardinal Joseph Alois Ratzinger served as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which at one time had been called the Holy Office of the Universal Roman Inquisition. Yes, that Inquisition. The one that silenced Galileo and burnt Bruno. It was also the one that kept the lid on clergy sexual abuse for over 400 years.
As head of the CDF, Ratzinger deliberately cranked the clock back to the Middle Ages. Or at least long before the Second Vatican Council. He personally helped squash most of the progressive hopes that he himself had promoted during the Council. It reads like a litany of the damned. Among them are:
- Liberation theology, taking the "preferential option for the poor" of the Gospel seriously, was condemned. Along the way, so too were his old friends and allies from the Council, including Leonardo Boff, Hans Kung, and Karl Rahner.
- Women's ordination hopes were dashed by raising the doctrine of verismilitude that possession of a penis like Jesus, even if unused, was somehow vitally important to the office of priest to near-dogmatic status.
- Gays were denied any participation unless totally celibate. Quite a bit of hypocrisy there as many experts reckon that well over half of the clergy itself is homosexual, and most of them are active.
- Ecumenical flowerings withered on the vine by suggesting that any Christian denomination denying the pope were somehow lacking Jesus. It is, by the way, now an offense worthy of automatic excommunication and a secret trial for any priest who participates in a Mass with non-Roman Catholics on the same level as a Black Mass or sexual abuse. Which, in my view, shows what they're really afraid of.
- Inter-religious relations haven't flourished either, especially with the Muslims, whom Benedict managed to insult by calling Muhammad an evildoer. Nor have the Jews been pleased by his promotion of the idea that Catholics continue to pray for their conversion.
And the main reason: Clergy abuse cases are once again handled secretly, with automatic excommunication incurred by anyone who violates it. For more information see Timeline of the Sex Scandals
Not only that, Ratzinger is simply one scary-looking dude.
Of course, it's easy to exagerate the look with Photoshop...
But below are a series of photos of Benedict collected from the Internet. Judge for yourselves if they are fake or real.
Such a charming smile, and so humble too...
No, it's not "Evil Santa"...
It's good to be the Pope.
He certainly has fun with the job, loves waving at the crowds, and displaying himself for their adulation.
If he just didn't look so creepy...
Here's an interesting sequence. Enjoying the crowd's worship during a visit to his old stomping grounds in Munich, Benedict looks both more delighted and nastier by the second.
"Ego sum papa."
I'm surprised the kids aren't crying....
"Trust me! I'm the Pope!"