From the Archives
Topic was John Paul's "cheerleaders":
One of my great fears for the church after John Paul has always been the cult following among certain conservatives who have viewed him in a manner akin to how Rastafarians view Haile Selassie -- something more than human, more than mortal (and if the pope told them to light up, their children would never pass a drug test again).
Let's face it, any successor who steps into the shoes of the fisherman will have a tough act to follow, but the Phil Lawlers, EWTNs, George Weigels ("VEEEE-gils," as senior curialists would have it) and other Papal Rockettes of this world have been so emboldened by the back-channels of the apartment in this pontificate that they will hunt down the successor and gladly serve as judge, jury and executioner if he dared do anything which didn't meet the litmus test they have established.
For them to declare obeisance to a pope who doesn't necessarily share their vision of what church is, and to be faithful to him, will be the test of their faith -- although, of course, they didn't stand with their "beloved daddy whom we adore to bits and pieces" on Iraq, strengthening the welfare state, working to curtail laissez-faire capitalism, advocating third-world debt relief, building a culture where life can be cherished and embraced at all socioeconomic levels, etc. etc. etc.
With that record, in essence, the papal cheerleaders have just served to make the church more insular and ostentatious. And if they're asked to do the work of Jesus for once, they'd shit. Just watch.
But these cultists will have a very hard time accepting any pope who isn't Ratzinger -- and even he has a few tricks (well-hidden, of course) up his sleeve that will cause some shock to the base.
Ratzi sure has shocked the base with those well-hidden tricks, hasn't he? Mr. Tiara-on-the-Desk, still sobbing because the Papacy's days of imperial trappings are behind it, attests to this.