We’ve been hearing rumors for months now, but it’s finally been confirmed. Last Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI announced that the Roman Catholic Church would be undergoing “a complete and total overhaul” to make it more easily accessible to new converts. From the official press release
“While the Catholic Church is very proud of its accomplishments over the past two millennia, it is becoming increasingly clear in this fast-paced age of technology and social media that the current One True Faith leaves a lot to be desired, and can leave many newcomers cold. It is understandable, of course, that those who are newer to the Church may be confused upon initial entry. After all, our current canon consists not only of the Holy Bible, broken into the Old and New Testaments, but Sacred Tradition and countless Creeds. . . In the new Faith, all of this will be streamlined and made available in a much more organized and digestible fashion.”
On the one hand, this news is very exciting. It’s well known that the Church could use an overhaul. Coming into the Faith new, a convert has a lot to take in. There’s the Scriptures, the Sacraments, and the trinity; not to mention the nearly two-thousand year history. Who can really be expected to learn about the Crusades and the Great Schism just for a chance to get into Heaven?
Of course, with the new reorganization, Heaven may not even exist, at least not exactly as modern Catholics see it. When questioned about the afterlife, the Pope said “We have big plans for. . . Heaven and Hell. For the new direction, we are going to be trying very hard to distance ourselves from Dante and the like.” This comes as quite the shock. We don’t yet know what direction they’re planning on taking this, but there’s a very good chance they’re going towards something more akin to Hindu’s philosophy of constant reincarnation. That would definitely shake things up a bit!
While the Pope has made it clear that the fundamental tenets will still be pretty much the same, there seem to be no sacred cows when it comes to the reboot. Trinity? The Virgin Mary? Excommunication? All seem to be in a state of limbo at the moment.
The biggest change that has been definitively revealed so far is in the nature of the Church’s flagship property, God. Traditionally, God, and therefore the Church, is seen as infallible. This will not necessarily be the case in the future. According to the Pope, “Infallibility was a huge draw back when the disciples were writing. It was a much different time, when people felt they needed something very reliable to hold onto.”
“Not so much anymore,” continues the Pope, “The attitude these days seems to be to question everything. Question your teachers, question your parents, question your government, even question God. Rather than fighting this and driving away potential converts, we are adopting a policy of semifallibility. This way people, young people especially, can question all they want and still remain in good standing with the Church.” When questioned as to exactly how fallible God would become, the Pope answered with a wink and a nudge. “I think we’ll end up being right most of the time.”
To many, these changes may seem like a lot. To some, though, they are not enough. Detractors say that the Church has been tracing over its steps, retconning important developments since the First Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. Others point out that the foundation of the church itself was in a way a reorganization of the earlier Jewish religion, which shares much of the same continuity. One anonymous blogger wrote
“This is just yet another desperate attempt at siphoning converts off from the competition. The Holy See sees all these potential Catholics going off to Protestantism or Islam or countless until recently obscure Eastern faiths and thinks ‘We have to make ourselves more accessible.’ What they don’t realize is that those religions have just as much bloat as Roman Catholicism. The draw isn’t accessibility, those religions are simply better. Adding a shiny new paint job to a rotten core and calling it a reboot is not going to save their dying followerbase.”
Whether the reboot will be the breath of fresh air this religion needs, or just another flash in the pan is yet to be seen. You can go to their website to see a complete list of new Scriptures. Personally, I can’t wait to see the streamlined Pentateuch. Jesus Christ isn’t really my thing, but they’re keeping the Big Four gospels (though I don’t think there’s a single Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John on the writing team), so they seem to still think he’s pretty important. The Neil Gaiman-penned Revelation also looks extremely promising.