Popes, smoke signals and the news

Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Does picking a pontiff really merit the full-court coverage?

There’s a new pope. Even if you’re not a complete news junkie like myself, I’m sure you’ve heard.

It’s a little hard to miss.

Over the last few weeks, news agencies have been following every minute detail.

There has been coverage of Pope Benedict’s final address, debate over footwear, the gathering of cardinals, the sealing of the papal residence and discussions on how to interpret smoke signals from the conclave.

Considering everything else going on in the world right now, I question the importance of covering such an event to this level of detail. I have to ask, “How relevant is this in the 21st century?”

The Roman Catholic Church has been heavily criticized for being out of touch and unwilling to evolve to meet the needs of people living in a modern society.

There are 1.2 billion Catholics in the world and many look to the church for guidance and direction.

But you have to question how qualified these religious leaders actually are to give any type of relevant guidance in the modern age.

How qualified are they to examine current events and interpret them in a rational, logical context?  

The question of relevancy and rational guidance can be best summed up by a story — a real story.

During the summer of 2002, the Western Wall in Jerusalem, better know as the “Wailing Wall,” started to leak.

People gathered for days to wonder at a small damp patch that appeared on one of the giant stone slabs.

The towering blocks of stone are revered by Jews as the last remains of the temple built by Herod in 20 BC and destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. Above it lies an area sacred to Jews called the Temple Mount, and to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif.

The leak was fiercely debated as it was undeniably unnatural — it was the height of summer in Jerusalem and there hadn’t been a drop of rain since May.

Many interpretations

The rabbi responsible for the Wall, Shmuel Rabinovitch, told the Jerusalem Post newspaper that perhaps the wall was weeping at the current situation in the country.

Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians had been growing for months.

Others also suggested that perhaps God was opening up a path for peace and people will be compelled to move towards it.

Some religious leaders took a much more apocalyptic view of the damp patch — insisting that it could finally herald the arrival of the Jewish Messiah.

Rabbi Menachem Fromann told the newspaper, “There is a prophecy that everybody knows, that states that when water comes through the stones of the wall it presages the advent of the Messiah.”

However, a more pragmatic and rational observer had another explanation.

He noted that the water hose in the enclosure just above the wall could be leaking again and suggested that someone contact the Israeli water authority.

No need for a conclusion here — I’ll let the story of the “Weeping Wailing Wall” speak for itself.

Trevor Sooley writes from Paradise.

Organizations: Roman Catholic Church, Jerusalem Post, Jewish Messiah

Geographic location: Jerusalem, Temple Mount

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page