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Pope Benedict XVI’s recent appointment of 24 new cardinals has the betting parlors back at work giving odds on who might be elected the next successor to the See of Peter. According to Paddy Power, a popular Irish bookmaker, the papacy is tipped to return to the hands of the Italians, with 7 to 4 odds. Sharon McHugh, spokesman for Paddy Power, said, “This is great news for the Italians who, after 32 years, are longing to see one of their own back in the Vatican.” Among those favored to be the 266th pontiff are Angelo Cardinal Scola of Venice at 6 to 1, Dionigi Cardinal Tettamanzi of Milan at 12 to 1, and Raymond Cardinal Burke of the U.S. at 16 to 1. Despite the fact that an Italian is tipped as the favorite, Francis Cardinal Arinze of Nigeria is still the overall frontrunner, with amazing odds of 2 to 1. U2 front man Bono is the 1,000 to 1 rank outsider. While the odds look stacked against the Irish rock star, it is worth remembering that technically any unmarried Catholic man could be chosen as the next Pope!
Sinead O’Connor, recently on tour in Australia, weighed in on the canonization of the nation’s first saint. “Mary MacKillop is going to become a very important figure, I’d say, because she f—ing shopped a paedophile priest,” the Irish diva told The Age (Oct. 20). O’Connor, no fan of the Catholic Church, took her interview opportunity with Melbourne’s most influential newspaper to blast the Vatican yet again. “It’s a nest of devils that’s run by people with no respect for God or children or the rest of us. The Pope and the top tier of the Church should step down immediately,” she said. “After that,” she added, “we should burn the f—ing Vatican to the ground, frankly, and I know if Jesus was here that’s exactly what would be happening.” O’Connor, who was ordained a “priest” of a breakaway Catholic sect in 1999, is quick to defend herself against charges that she’s anti-Catholic. “I’m someone who really believes in the Holy Spirit,” she explained, “whatever you want to call it — f—ing Allah or Daisy or Fred — and I don’t like to see that spirit being misrepresented to the point where people are horrified to even think of the ‘G’ word.”
A 56-year-old woman armed with a crowbar destroyed a controversial art exhibit that showed Jesus Christ engaged in a sex act. “The Misadventures of Romantic Cannibals” by Stanford University’s Enrique Chagoya had been the subject of a week’s worth of protests at the Loveland Museum/Gallery near Denver before Kathleen Folden arrived from Montana, wearing a T-shirt bearing the slogan “Tough as Nails.” Using a crowbar, she broke the plexiglass protecting the image and tore up the blasphemous artwork. Art dealer Mark Michaels told Denver’s 9News (Oct. 6) that he heard her screaming, “How can you desecrate my Lord?” as she broke into the case. “By the time I got there she had reached in and grabbed the print and was ripping it up, so I pulled her away from the print and put her in the corner and then the police came.” The art museum and Chagoya both deny that his work was obscene or pornographic. Further, they deny charges that the artwork depicted Jesus in a sex act, despite the fact that Christ, dressed as a woman, had a man on him — in a compromising position — with the word “orgasm” written on the wall behind the two.
Druids are said to have been worshiping in Britain for thousands of years, but their modern heirs have only now won recognition from the Charity Commission for England and Wales as an official religion. It took the Druid Network four years to obtain charity status and a separate listing in official surveys of religious believers. “It was a long and at times frustrating process,” said Phil Ryder, chair of trustees for the Druid Network, “exacerbated by the fact that the Charity Commissioners had no understanding of our beliefs and practices, and examined us on every aspect of them.” What, precisely, do Druids believe? The website Druidry.org explains: “One of the most striking characteristics of Druidism is the degree to which it is free of dogma and any fixed set of beliefs or practices…. [Some Druids] feel themselves to be animists, pantheists, polytheists, monotheists or duotheists. Others will avoid choosing any one conception of Deity, believing that by its very nature this is unknowable by the mind.” Although in 2003 the BBC estimated that there were some 10,000 Druids in Britain, the Druid Network has only 350 members, who must pay £10 annual dues (National Post, Oct. 2).
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