The brisk arrival of the holiday season and its coincidence with one of the most profound economic downturns in decades has seemingly influenced Pope Benedict's message for the World Day of Peace 2012.
The Catholic leader is calling for "mechanisms for the redistribution of wealth," a message that is no doubt usurped by the clanging of his gilded scepter, the shine of his castle, and the carbon exhaust cloud emanating from his Mercedez-Benz M Class.
As the audible head scratching echoes move cross continental, there is also the contrasting, silent screams of Republican religious fundamentalists, a group that purports to progress the message of Jesus Christ while simultaneously advancing the financial greed of the "1%." Paging Newt Gingrich.
Though most figureheads are no strangers to hypocrisy, is it too much to ask Benedict to practice what and while he preaches?
With a sharp decline in public confidence, and a generational shift in religious beliefs the Catholic Church is at a crux. A February poll spearheaded by Zogby International had overall religious confidence pegged at 53% in the United States, a country that is often polled at over 80% "religious" and replete with Catholics. And they say only women fake it.
It is a shame that an organization once so preponderant now resembles a nearly insolvent print media company without a public relations department.
In the spirit of the New Year and in alignment with my affinity for resolutions, I ambitiously propose a redistribution of wealth within the church itself, funneled from the presumably lethargic legal department to a communications team. If the Church is to survive they must effectively deal with their issues regarding sex, as a gender, and with the act itself.
With a noted decline in the pool for available clergy, a message of female subservience will no doubt fail to awaken a younger generation. Women in Canada today make up the majority of the workforce (though financial equality is still a war being waged). Exclusion of a gender from doing a job to which they are formidably suited leaves a sour taste in a generation in which women spearhead billion dollar corporations. Combine that with an entirely male clergy who have committed thousands of acts of sexual abuse while still being allowed to remain in active ministry, and you create a flurry of cognitive dissonance.
As an act:
To serve up a regressive doctrine of sexual abstinence in the face of an overpopulation crisis is irresponsible. Furthermore an implausible chastity mandate has no doubt played a hand in engendering the widespread child abuse. Benedict excommunicated a priest who sought to get married, a feat, which is presumed by the church to be more egregious than their method of "psychological castration".
Alas, there have been optimistic shifts within the church recently. The church's previous stance on condom use was borderline indefensible as the AIDS crisis ravaged the continent of Africa. In November of last year, we saw pragmatic steps by the pope whose spokesman said condoms could be "the first step of responsibility".
Today, our often hypocritical and loose-lipped public figures serve to remind us that foot and mouth disease is no longer an affliction reserved for hooved animals.
For an organization with such an aversion to scientific method, it is ironic that the Catholic Church must practice evolution within the next decade or face a sharp deterioration into a sect.
Your move, holy man.