I know what you're probably thinking, "Only five reasons, Marty?! You're really phoning this one in, huh? Let's see, there's the long-standing antagonism toward the LGBT community, the troublesome role of women in the clergy, and of course the issue of pedophilia in the priesthood (the continual resurfacing of which seems to be challenging the Almighty in terms of omnipresence). You could have easily come up with almost a hundred reasons."
While it's true that the Church may not exactly be a hard target, I am consciously avoiding these and other hot button issues due to what I am calling "the Van Damme rule."
That's right, the Van Damme rule – don't hunt what you can't kill. These topics are likely to be the cause of contentious family dinners for years to come, and one little article isn't going to end the debate or solve these problems. I'm not trying to start my own religion — I'm just a humble servant of Christ with a list of issues that Pope Leo X can address today. Starting with:
The Problem: The Bishop of Rome has appointed at least seven known relatives to the College of Cardinals (and people wonder how the Italians have managed their stranglehold on the papacy).
It makes sense — the Holy Father cannot have (legitimate) children of his own, so he manages to ensure his legacy through the offspring of relatives. Although if the scuttlebutt around Rome is true, his predilection for young, handsome chamberlains casts some serious doubts on whether he would produce any heirs were he not a man of the cloth.
The Solution: Stop appointing Medici's to the Churches top offices! It's pretty simple, really. Many major corporations have policies against the hiring of relatives, perhaps it's time the Vatican did too.
The Problem: Bishop and abbot positions (that haven't already been given to relatives) are sold to the highest bidder.
Rather than awarding exalted positions in the Church to senior clergymen who have demonstrated their faith in and knowledge of the word of God, Pope Leo has instead handed out these positions to those with the deepest pockets.
The Solution: His Holiness needs to rein in his spending. Unnamed sources at the Vatican have informed me that the Pope has already exhausted the savings of his predecessor, the late Julius II. A good start would probably be for the Holy Father to sell his pet elephant, Hanno.
Additionally, the venerable Leo X should delay Raphael's paintings in the Vatican. Yes, I am well aware that Julius started the project, but (as I mentioned) the man knew how to control his finances. Spending less money on the renovations of St. Peter's Basilica would also be a good idea, but more on that later.
The Problem: Christians are being taught to revere the saints, the Virgin Mary, and holy relics to the point of idolatry. What's worse, these poor souls are being led astray by the false notion that prostration in the presence of these relics can grant relief from punishment in the afterlife.
Certain churches (*cough, cough* looking your way All Saints' in Wittenberg) have entered a veritable arms race of holy relics in order to attract visitors and fill the coffers. Pilgrims come from miles around to pray before items like straws from the Christ child's manger and the milk of the Blessed Mother.
The Solution: Educate the flock in the true way of Christ — that salvation comes from the grace of God alone. Entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven is not something that one earns through good deeds, but is instead a gift that the Lord bestows upon those who have true faith in Him.
Good deeds that a believer performs are not done with the help of Christ, but are instead performed by Christ through us. Therefore, it is by faith alone that we may satisfy God's law, and it is by faith alone that we are judged.
The Problem: Given the fact that the House of Medici is a family of bankers, it is hardly surprising that Pope Leo would lift the longstanding Church ban on interest loans. I respect that Leo is acknowledging his roots, — fam look out for fam 'n all that — but scripture is pretty clear about this issue:
Perhaps the only example of the Son of Man getting his Irish up involved some money lenders in the temple, so His Holiness really ought to recant on this one.
The Solution: If we must have money lenders in our society, then let us leave this base, whoring profession to the Jews. While as good, God-fearing Christians we should first try to convert those of the Jewish faith, if those efforts should fail, then why not let the envenomed worms be worms? I can't say much more on this subject without risking crucifixion at the hands of the lamestream media/PC police, but if you would like to learn more about the subject, please check out my book (below).
The Problem: As part of a fund-raising campaign for the renovations of St. Peter's, the Pope has authorized the sale of plenary indulgences. I may have mentioned previously that the only way into Heaven is through the grace of our Lord, so this is essentially an afterlife insurance scam that Leo is running.
Despite the fact that indulgences are illegal in many places, parishioners will still travel to purchase their forgiveness. And while clergymen taking advantage of the laity is certainly... erm... problematic, the situation is also indicative of a larger issue within the church: the majority of churchgoers cannot understand the Latin Bible/Mass and consequently have a poor understanding of the true nature of Christ.
The Solution: I have no idea why the Holy Father is so intent on renovating and putting a gaudy dome on the basilica. Although the building has certainly fallen into disrepair, a mild restoration could be performed now, and the larger project should be put on hold indefinitely.
The Basilica is one of the oldest and most historical buildings in Christendom, and a large-scale reconstruction of the building would likely ruin that history and set a bad precedent. Even though domes may be in vogue now, they will likely fall out of fashion soon, and be surpassed by some new architectural innovation. Additionally, architects and artists who can better the work of Bramante, Raphael, and Michelangelo will surely come along, so if one must renovate, why not wait?
Instead of using the money raised by indulgences on this renovation, I propose translating the Bible into Italian, German, French, and English. The funds could then be used to mass-produce The Good Book using Herr Gutenberg's new-fangled printing press. Copies of the newly translated word of the Lord could then be sold to a wider audience, which would help the spread of Christianity, and the profits could be used to commission more artwork, renovations, or any other garish endeavor His Holiness Pope Leo X desires.