The Italian press is full of reports that the Catholic Church will boycott the sequel to The Da Vinci Code, which will fail spectacularly as the latest marginal cultural wars led by the new Pope.
Pope Benedict XVI—whom we'll call Joseph Ratzinger, since that's what his Hitler Youth friends called him—is infallible, owing to his election by God and/or a secretive conclave of Cardinals who are heavily lobbied and swayed by earthly politics and horse-trading.
Being infallible naturally leads a pope to think that he (I was going to add "or she," but, you know) will win every battle he picks. That's a common mistake among rookie popes, who often take a while to learn that they're only infallible in the eyes of the billions of people who believe, as George Carlin used to put it, that an all-powerful invisible ghost controls their lives. The rest of us are free to attack him all the time.
And oh, how we have attacked! Last week Ratzinger became the first pope to publicly utter the word "condom" when he told Africans, falsely, that condoms "aggravate" the spread of AIDS, prompting a host of nations to ask him to limit his fairy tales to subjects that don't involve a catastrophic epidemic that threatens to destroy the African continent.
That followed just weeks on the heels of his infallible decision to reverse the excommunication of a Richard Williamson, a British priest (he pretended to be a bishop) who has actively, repeatedly, and loudly denied the historical fact of the Holocaust, described the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as "authentic," and claimed that 9/11 was an inside job. After everyone started wondering why, all of a sudden, a former Hitler Youth and Luftwaffe anti-aircraft gunner was running around dropping church grudges against Holocaust deniers, Ratzinger issued an apology for the way it was handled and promised to start reading the internet, which would have told him all about Williamson's ideas.
Before that, Ratzinger's tenure had also been marked by the re-introduction of the Tridentine Mass, which includes a prayer for the conversion of all Jews, and a 2006 speech wherein he approvingly quoted an ealier pope saying that Islam's ideas were "evil and inhuman," and for which he had to apologize.
And now the church appears to be ready to repeat its 2006 attempt to boycott The Da Vinci Code. The Vatican's official newspaper on Friday reported that the church "cannot approve" of Angels & Demons, the film's sequel, and another Italian newspaper said a boycott call is imminent. The wildly successful church boycott of The Da Vinci Code limited that film to a mere $760 million worldwide.
The attention that such a boycott would bring to the film will probably only increase "ominous rumblings" that one noted church-watcher hears bubbling up beneath the vatican "as under a volcano."
Any day now, God's going to issue a statement saying he has "complete confidence" in Ratzinger, and then he's going to die suddenly, which is how God fires people.