Joseph Ratzinger's settled in as pope now, and he's really getting down to business with the crazy this year. What's he been up to and how will affect you?

  • His Holiness got a mess of bad publicity when he un-excommunicated (recommunicated?) Bishop Richard Williamson. Williamson split from the church due to the liberalism of Vatican II, and also he denies the holocaust. That's really the biggie, there. Oh, sure, he'll admit that a couple thousand people died accidentally in the concentration camps, but the whole "6 million Jews" and "gas chambers" thing? Total myth! When news of the recommunication of this lunatic broke, it took Pope Ratzi two weeks to respond with his half-assed promise to make the Bishop deny his firmly held beliefs that Jews are the enemies of Christ and that they're agents of the Freemasons. And now the Jews are all mad for some reason!
  • Ratzi got less press for another odd move: he brought back Plenary Indulgences. Whoo! Plenary Indulgences!! Those are when the church, uh, forgives for you all your sins and gives you basically a "get out of Purgatory free" card. The idea here is to trick lapsed Catholics into going to confession, and then with some special prayers they get one of these magic tickets to heaven. Fun fact: the selling of Plenary Indulgences is one of the things that ticked off Martin Luther! Readers are advised to take advantage of this St. Paul's Birthday Indulgence deal—they're letting anyone have one.
  • Oh, meanwhile the Vatican's getting all caught up in Italy's own version of the fucking Terri Schiavo thing.
  • And finally, the Church is officially cool with Charles Darwin. (For those keeping score: evolution: real. Holocaust: pretend.) To be fair, Creationism is really more of a Nutty American Protestant thing than a Catholic thing, but the Church has not traditionally been too pro-science.

Now you may wonder why, exactly, Pope Ratzi is getting such awful press when his predecessor was basically the most beloved Pope ever. Well, for one, Pope John Paul wasn't a member of the Nazi Youth who was then in charge of the Inquisition. But more importantly: "the Pope, unlike his predecessor, does not have a full-time press officer."

Well that explains it.