Thursday, October 05, 2006
After a quiet first year in office, Pope Benedict XVI is hardly ever out of the news now. A more bookish figure than his predecessor - he prefers a modest Volkswagen Golf to the Popemobile - Ben Sez (as they call him in France) is dismantling one of the oldest concepts of Catholic dogma - limbo - in an attempt to win converts in Africa and Asia, two parts of the world where God is still King. The move is to allow stillborn children to go to heaven, which they do not as long as limbo is there. Islam is a bit more flexible in this regard, allowing stillborn souls free access to paradise. I will inevitably be profane in viewing the Pope's effort in a mercantile fashion, as a marketing ploy in a price war with rival religions. Or maybe it is only a case of pragmatic management, a way of speeding up the queues, like New Labour have been trying to do with the NHS. In any case, the abolishment of limbo is unlikely to have repercussions for those of us who actually got born, or so it seems to an eye as theologically naked as mine. What does the future hold for limbo dancing then?