Dictatorships in Daily Life: The Pope

December 14, 2008

Yes, the Pope. You think I’m joking, don’t you? Trust me, the Almighty Josibear never jokes. Secret police will be knocking on your door soon enough for your insolence.

Let’s consider. The Pope is the leader of the Roman Catholic Church; thus, the Pope is the leader of all the Roman Catholics in the world. Do you even realize how many Roman Catholics there are? Over one billion. Globally, there are over one billion people baptized as Roman Catholic. There are even Catholics in China! A communist dictatorship officially without religion! Whether or not all of these people are actually practising is definitely up for debate, but what is not is the fact that the Pope rules over one-sixth of the world’s population. This makes him one of the most influential people on the planet, the very goal of every dictator alive today. Naturally, influence alone does not a dictator make.  But I think we can all agree that it is a big first step.

Let’s further consider the rabid devotion of practising Roman Catholics. These are people who have ten children or more because the Pope says they can’t use condoms. Their fanatical adoration of their God and his mouthpiece is so great that women are willing to stretch out their bodies and minds with spawn for years on end. And no pre-marital sex or masturbation means the Pope even controls teenage hormones, a mighty feat indeed.

Catholics also believe that they can be excommunicated–i.e., banished–for particularly grave offenses against the Church. And what are offenses against the Church but offenses against God? And isn’t the Pope the representative of God on earth? So like any good despot, the Pope has the power to destroy your life and kick you to the curb. He may even have the power to take your life through  psychophysiological death, a very for-real phenomenon in which people die seemingly because of being cursed or some other mystical effect. If the Pope tells you that he has told God to cut you down and you are a true believer, you are inclined to believe that statement. So your stress levels go up and any pre-existing disease is exacerbated and before you know it, you’re clutching your chest and begging for forgiveness.

The church defines itself as the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church”. I think you can figure out “holy” and “apostolic” for yourself. (Unless you failed the stupidity test and are currently targeted for removal, in which case, please sit tight. My agents are on their way.) The dictatorial parts of this definition can be found in “one” and “catholic”. “One” basically means that there is nothing but the Church and that there must be unity within the Church, i.e, no dissenters allowed. Which means that for believers, the Church is an autocracy led by the Pope. An autocrat is synonymous with dictator. Do you see now how your Beloved JB has not led you astray, that the seemingly far-fetched notion of the Pope as dictator is in fact completely true? Interestingly, although you peasants may have trapped “catholic” in its meaning as referring to the Catholic Church, this is a linguistic failure on your part. “Catholic” also means “all-encompassing” or “universal”, so the idea here is that the Catholics want to swallow the whole world up in their suffocating embrace. A bold statement of the Pope’s determination to take over the world. And we all know who tries to take over the world, don’t we? Yes, peasant-uprising squelching dictators.

And don’t forget that in addition to being the leader of the Catholic Church, the Pope is also the head of the city-state, the Vatican. Unlike the leadership of the country that surrounds the Vatican, the citizens of this sovereign state do not get to vote for their leaders. There is no democracy in the Vatican. As I’m sure most of you remember from the latest papal selection, the Pope is elected for life by a bunch of other religious guys, who, dictatorially enough, were appointed by the previous Pope. So only people who are beholden to a Pope get to pick a Pope and this Pope holds power until his death. Hmm, that sounds like some other people we know. Although we cannot know whether the Pope’s rule over the Vatican is kind or cruel, the fact that he is also the spiritual leader of the citizens indicates that he likely rules through inspiring terror and awe. After all, the man is supposed to have some kind of hotline to God. For a people who have deep faith, this is the ultimate dictatorial threat. Being told on to God is probably even worse than having secret police pistol whip you.

But unlike our fellow despots, the Pope is seen as a benevolent figure and is welcomed by most heads of states around the world. He even has a seat at the UN! I would kill for a seat at the UN. (I mean, kill more than I already have.) The Pope goes on world tours and people line up to see him, weep when he touches them. He is clearly a dictator, but he has the world fooled into thinking he is a harmless old codger. So what is the lesson for those dictators who are constantly persecuted by the international community? Become a religious leader. Even though religion is the most effective of mind control techniques and thus perfect for dictatorial use, it is seen as a welcome and positive influence in people’s lives. Ruthless and power-hungry monsters, take note.

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