In the dark hours of Thursday morning, Feb. 28, I awoke to find CNN featuring a continuous shot of a helicopter. The network cut between a close-up and a distant dot. It was Benedict, flying from the Vatican City. This was extraordinary attention for an ordinary cardinal, because as Benedict told the throng awaiting him, “I am no longer pope.” I am not a scholar of Catholic history, but I believe we were witnessing the first time the papal throne was vacant. It may have been occupied by rogues, scoundrels, impostors or even a woman, but always there was someone sitting there.
Does this guy read the newspaper he works for? There had been plenty of coverage of the Pope’s retirement before that helicopter trip. You don’t have to be a “scholar of Catholic history” to know this was the first resignation in six centuries, or to know there have been vacancies every time a pope died; there’s no “Vice-Pope.” For that matter, anyone with a reasonable education might recall that a schism led to there being two popes for a while some centuries back—a pope surplus.
The headline of Ebert’s piece: “How I am a Roman Catholic.” The short answer is “ignorantly.” His extended answer is “cafeteria-style”:
Through a mental process that has by now become almost instinctive, those nuns guided me into supporting universal health care, the rightness of labor unions, fair taxation, prudence in warfare, kindness in peacetime, help for the hungry and homeless, and equal opportunity for the races and genders. It continues to surprise me that many who consider themselves religious seem to tilt away from me.
Birth control? Here I subscribe to an unofficial “double” loophole often applied in practice by Catholics faced with perplexing choices: Do that which results in the greater good and the lesser evil. I support freedom of choice. My choice is to not support abortion, except in cases of a clear-cut choice between the lives of the mother and child. A child conceived through incest or rape is innocent and deserves the right to be born.
“Support”? He goes to the trouble of writing a rather lenghty column, but does not squarely present his position on outlawing elective abortion. Some Catholic.
It gets better:
I consider myself Catholic, lock, stock and barrel, with this technical loophole: I cannot believe in God. I refuse to call myself an atheist, however, because that indicates too great a certainty about the unknowable.
No rules, no beliefs, just some liberal platitudes.(Via Lucianne.)