Wednesday, March 31

2 guys, 2 girls, 2 popes and a lot of sex

Recently, there have been a number of stories regarding the RC church which have been, in the most generous of terms, unflattering.

In the first, you have the public scandal of institutionalized physical and sexual abuse in Ireland (along with His Holiness' non-apology).

Then, there is the matter of institutionalized paedophilia in then-archbishop Ratzinger's diocese, which the head of the German's Bishop Conference admits was known about and covered up for years.

Follow this up with a more local story, being the expulsion of a kindergarten girl from Sacred Heart of Jesus school due to her parents being lesbians. Please note that the Archdiocese of Denver was/is fully behind this. The same Archdiocese which has, in the last 10 years, settled 43 separate cases of sexual abuse by priests.

To expand our focus a bit, we have the paedophilic abuse of at least 19 (and possibly many more) boys by a priest for decades here in the US which was brought to then-Cardinal Ratzinger's attention by a bishop.

Finally, you have the matter of Marciel Maciel, the founder of the Legionares of Christ. Prelate Marcial had been investigated on three separate occasions for molesting seminary students (twice by Ratzinger) before being allowed to confess/apologize to his victims on his deathbed.

These last two are especially vexing as Cardinal Ratzinger was the head of the Vatican task force appointed to specifically address this sort of thing when the abuses were brought to light by people within the Church. His Holiness Benedict XVI, in the Palm Sunday homily, referred to all of these things as 'petty gossip' which the church would not be 'intimidated' by. I personally find it improbable to the point of incredulity that the Magesterium and the office of the Pope (as well as the personage of the Pope) was unaware of the gross and serial social injustices done by ordained members of the Church as well as the top-down cover-up.

OK...that's the setup.

There are two stories from scripture which I am going to mention here for different reasons.

The first tale comes from Daniel (the unabridged edition) and it revolves around a sexy, God-fearin wife named Susanna who takes a bath in her own house. Some pervy old peeping toms wanna get jiggy with her, and when she tells them to sod off, they try to blackmail her. Trouble is, the Peeping Toms are judges and elders with great authority and the people believe them over the 'victim'. At least, they do until a boy named Daniel shows up and lays the Jehovic smack-down on them. The people, realising they've been lied to, put them to death "in accordance with the law".

Here we have older men lusting after a nubile young thang and then using their authority and ecclesiastical law to cover up for their sins. The parallels and implications are clear.

Our second parable comes from John. The Pharisees want to get dirt on Jesus to try and have him arrested, so they bring to him a woman who was purportedly caught in the act of adultery and should be stoned "in accordance with the law" (which, btw, they misrepresent). Christ says that he who is without sin should cast the first stone, whereupon the judges slowly walk away, leaving the woman and Christ. He asks who has condemned her (no one), tells her the he doesn't condemn her either and for her to "go and sin no more".

This is, most coincidentally, the gospel reading from the 5th Sunday in Lent. This is what his Holiness said in his homily on the matter.

God only wants goodness and life for us; he provides for the salvation of our soul through his ministers, freeing us from evil by the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so that no one is lost but all have a way to be converted. In this Year for Priests, I would like to exhort pastors to imitate the holy Curé d'Ars in the ministry of sacramental Penance, so that the faithful rediscover its meaning and beauty, and are again healed by the merciful love of God, who even "forces himself willingly to forget sin," so that he can grant us his forgiveness!" ("Letter Proclaiming a Year for Priests").

Dear friends, let us learn from the Lord Jesus not to judge and not to condemn our neighbor. Let us learn to be intransigent with sin -- beginning with our own! -- and indulgent with people. May we be helped in this by the Holy Mother of God, who, free of every fault, is the mediatrix of grace for every contrite sinner.

I find those bold words, especially from the leader of an organization which consistently uses the withholding of the Eucharist as a weapon and the separation of people from God as a tool to extort external behaviours. The key to this forgiveness which IS very important lies in the second to last word - contrite. One must recognize the errors, feel remorse and desire atonement.

To quote from his Holiness' Palm Sunday Homily :

The Gospel for the blessing of the palms that we have listened to together here in St. Peter's Square begins with the phrase: "Jesus went ahead of everyone going up to Jerusalem" (Luke 19:28). Immediately at the beginning of the liturgy this day, the Church anticipates her response to the Gospel, saying, "Let us follow the Lord." With that the theme of Palm Sunday is clearly expressed. It is about following.

So here's the punchline....

Without attempting to judge, I openly wonder if Mother Church is following Jesus? Is the leadership, in fact, listening to the words they are saying and truly believing them? If so, how can they endorse harming innocents in the name of the law, and being lenient (or complicit) with the sins which have caused so much harm? Are they showing any contrition? If not, how can they expect to avoid the Elder's fate?

I would humbly submit that perhaps they, singly and wholly, should take heed to another Pope (Alexander Pope).

"Teach me to feel another's woe,
to hide the fault I see,
that mercy I to others show,
that mercy show to me.

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