When I saw this Associated Press headline, “Cardinals defend pope on church sex abuse scandal,” I thought, “Why is this such a big deal to the St. Louis Cardinals? Don’t they have opening day on their minds?” Then, I clicked on the link and I saw it was about those cardinals, and not the red bird baseball team. Oh.
My favorite New York Times Op-Ed columnist, Maureen Dowd, has been writing about this scandal with a passion. In her Sunday column, she wrote, “Italy’s La Repubblica reported that “certain Catholic circles” suspected that “a New York Jewish lobby” was responsible for the outcry against the pope.” The acrid stench of anti-semitism did not escape Irish Catholic Dowd who’s been sniffing this story like a bloodhound. Years ago, in one of her columns, she mentioned that the Bush administration code name for her was Cobra. Appropriately, she closed that column, “Hiss.”
Although I am somewhere in-between being an atheist and an agnostic — twelve years of Catholic schooling had that effect on me, I have been following this latest round of church scandal with the degree of interest most Americans reserve for Octomom, Balloon Boy, or Jon and Kate. Unfortunately, there is not anything very ha ha funny about this mess, but my revisionist thinking about Sinead O’Connor tearing up the Pope’s picture on Saturday Night Live 18 years ago made Milton chuckle. Yet, I now realize that this was not some wacky publicity stunt but a cry for attention about what was going on with apparent church approval. As the College of Cardinals, who appear to be on average, age 81 ½, try to defend Pope Benedict’s role in this scandal, this makes me think about God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit – that last member of the trinity I always thought was understood best with the assistance of deeply inhaled herbal essence chased with Crunch ‘n Munch.
If the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost exist, bringing this scandal to light is probably their idea. If anyone should know this best of all, I would think it’s these old hardcore religious guys living the high life in the Vatican in their flowing vestments and various hats. Please don’t get me going about the get-up the Swiss Guards wear … Was Edith Head a consultant?
Committing a sin of the flesh with a consenting adult of either sex is, in my opinion, human, and one I think many of us try to do as often as we can, and most of us do not see it as sinful at all, but we didn’t take any vows of celibacy, so we’re all off that hook. On the other hand, as someone who has taken that vow who is also feeling up 200 deaf boys over more than twenty years, that enters “Holy crap, what the hell is going on?” territory. What is criminal to these guys in Vatican City? The abuse is repugnant, but the cover-up is equally immoral, for it shields the abuser, or as we now know, the many abusers. Wouldn’t God care about the victims, and isn’t the Pope supposed to be God’s spokesman?
Back to the College of Cardinals and the current pontiff, it does appear that they are all taking part in an overdrive effort to whitewash their many transgressions, so they can keep their jobs through this crisis, but these guys are not immortal. They’re going to eventually meet their maker, if He exists, and there’s no way they’re going to be able to get away with spinning Him.
That idea is almost enough to make me want to believe.