Star Trek Commentary about the 21st Century (from the DS9 ep. 3.11 “Past Tense” aired 1995)

Sisko and Bashir (Avery Brooks and Alexander Siddig)
Sisko and Bashir in 2024 San Francisco.

In the Star Trek Deep Space 9 episode "Past Tense" (3.11 and 3.12, aired 1995) some of the characters are stranded in 2024 in a state-run overpopulated ghetto for keeping the poor, unemployed and mentally ill "out of sight." In the first part, after minute 22, Sisko and Bashir walk its streets and talk about the 21st as one of the "most depressing" centuries in human history.
Bashir: Look at this man. There's no need for him to live like that. With the right medication he could lead a full and normal life.

Sisko: Maybe in our time...

Bashir: Not just in our time! There are any number of effective treatments for schizophrenia, even in this day and age. They could cure that man now, today... If they gave a damn.

Sisko: It's not that they don't give a damn. They've just given up... The social problems they face seem too enormous to deal…

Bashir: That only makes things worse. Causing people to suffer because you hate them is terrible, but causing people to suffer because you have forgotten how to care... that's really hard to understand.

Sisko: They’ll remember. It’ll take some time and it won’t be easy, but eventually people in this century will remember how to care.

Bashir: Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Are Humans really any different than Cardassians or Romulans. If push comes to shove, if something disastrous happens to the Federation... if we are frightened enough, or desperate enough... How would we react? Do we stay true to our ideals or we just… stay here – right back where we started.

The story of Past Tense (I and II) is by Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe.


Pope Benedict XVI and Papal Resignation in Science Fiction

This article is also available in Macedonian
- на македонски на Блогерај: Папата Бенедикт XVI и папската оставка во научната фантастика
- на македонски на Блогспот: Папата Бенедикт XVI и папската оставка во научната фантастика     

A science fiction novel written during the lifetime of the previous Pope designated Benedict XVI as his successor in 2009.

The book Flashforward by Canadian writer Robert J. Sawyer was written in 1995, and published in 1999. Part of the action takes place in 2009, and Pope Benedict XVI is listed as part of a fictional news digest (pg. 93 of the paperback linked via the picture). Benedict XVI began his papacy in 2005. 

Sawyer made the second "prediction" in the short story "The Abdication of Pope Mary III," available on his blog.

Wikipedia lists several other sci-fi works dealing with papacy as such:
  • In "In partibus infidelium" ("In the Land of the Unbelievers") by Polish writer Jacek Dukaj, humanity makes contact with other space-faring civilizations, and Christianity - specifically, the Catholic Church - spreads far and wide. Humans become a minority among believers and an alien is elected as the Pope.
  • In Project Pope (1981) by Clifford Simak, robots on the planet End of Nowhere have labored a thousand years to build a computerized, infallible pope to eke out the ultimate truth. Their work is preempted when a human Listener discovers what might be the planet Heaven.

Another recent work of fiction (but not science fiction) dealing with Papal resignation is the Italian comedy from 2011 Habemus Papam, (We Have a Pope in English) in which the chosen cardinal gets a bit of cold feet and [spoiler alert!] declines the offer during the ritual of annunciation.