Hey Joe, where are you going?

I cannot prove that my book on the marketing of God (‘Hey Joe!’, Amsterdam 2009/Frankfurt 2011) has influenced Pope Benedict’s decision to give up, but I secretly hope so. In almost six centuries this has never happened. A pope stays until he dies, naturally or poisoned. A pope never retires, even if his doctors advise him to take a rest. Benedict is not allowed to travel any longer, his medics told him, and this pope cannot imagine doing a good job by staying in Rome. He has to move, to convince, to conquer new souls and to save those who doubt. Knowing the German shepherd a bit, he will have prepared the road for his successor. As a master manipulator he will design the whole strategy: the white smoke will be used to hide the truth until it comes out of the Vatican’s chimney. Probably on Easter or just before. As another brilliant marketing trick in the service of the Roman Catholic Church. I, for one, don’t believe Benedict will retire just like this. He will leave a trace, a stigma, to prove that his shadow will cover his successor as long as he lives. Benedict quietly at home, wrioting his next book on Jesus and casting his conservative spell over the world. Against homosexuals, against birth control,against women in responsible ecclesiastic positions, against modernism tout court.
What I really think is that he will use his last years to find his way back to God, praying that this will happen before he dies. Like Mother Teresa, the pope has lost his faith and therefore his raison d’être. How sad that he will never be able to admit this, not even in confession.

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