Showing posts with label Benedict XVI. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Benedict XVI. Show all posts

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Be a Saint

Maybe the Vatican, in dealing with the sex-abuse scandal and its never-ending aftermath, just needs to follow the example of a Saint.

For one thing, unlike the pope, a Saint doesn't need a veteran Vatican watcher to explain to the rest of the press corps, in effect,
"Yes, Benedict XVI was addressing the Scandals in this homily. It appears he was being critical of the church and pointing to the need for repentance."

At the Vatican, Christ's injunction in the fifth chapter of Matthew about letting
"your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No'," has yet to gain complete traction among those who proclaim it.

IS IT POSSIBLE that, in his own way, a modern-day sinner turned Saint -- as in New Orleans Saints -- might have a better grasp on confession and repentance than many of the pointy hats who've been preaching confession and repentance to fallen humanity since 33 A.D.?

Present-day Saint and former Nebraska Cornhusker sinner Carl Nicks just might. Perhaps they ought to start subscribing to the Omaha World-Herald all across Vatican City:
Carl Nicks returned to Nebraska on Wednesday with a Super Bowl watch, a new tattoo and a humble act of contrition.

Nicks met briefly after practice with head coach Bo Pelini, who banned the offensive lineman from the Huskers’ pro day two years ago. It was an unceremonious parting with the program before New Orleans made Nicks a fifth-round draft pick.

Nicks called the NU football office Wednesday and asked if he could come by — and now plans to stay for the spring game Saturday.

“I figured it was about time to put some water on some of those bridges I burned,” Nicks said.

As soon as the 2007 season ended at Colorado — along with Bill Callahan’s reign as head coach — Nicks stopped going to class, which he counts among the “immature stuff I did.” About three months after Pelini replaced Callahan, he cited an arrest and Nicks being a bad example for returning players in barring him from pro day.

Nicks said it wasn’t until he got to New Orleans and talked with former Husker safety Josh Bullocks that he realized that he was in the wrong.

“For about a good three or four months I had blamed Bo for it and I was blaming other people, and at the end of the day, you’ve got to look in the mirror,” Nicks said. “Once I got a little older, played a little professional ball, I realized how good I had it and just how bad I treated everybody.”
AN ASSOCIATED PRESS story adds this from Nicks:
"I'm not who I was then," he said. "It just kind of hurts, to know I made a fool of myself."

Dressed in shorts and a Kobe Bryant Lakers' jersey, Nicks approached Pelini after the coach's post-practice session with reporters. They talked for a few minutes and shook hands.

"I wouldn't be true to Nebraska if I didn't try to apologize to Bo, even though I didn't play for him," Nicks said. "He's the face of Nebraska. I have to make it right with him, Mr. Osborne and everyone I did wrong when I was here."

Osborne surprised Nicks by greeting him as Carl -- "I didn't think he knew my name" - and then told him to learn from his mistakes and finish his college degree as soon as possible.

"I basically apologized to them for being an irresponsible athlete," Nicks said. "I didn't really have to do it, but I felt I needed to do it."

THAT IS the grace through repentance the Pope was talking about in his homily today -- the one the press was divining for applicability to the Catholic Church's present sins.

It would be nice if Benedict could just come out and say what he has to say . . . plainly. Specifically. Explicitly. It would be nice if he could do that in personal terms, not hiding behind addressing the "church."

It would be nice if the pope's subordinates -- who have been so quick to unleash public-relations Armageddon on the "evil press" for delving into the sins of the fathers -- could follow the Founder's command (again, from Matthew 5) instead:
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.
IT WOULD be nice if everybody involved -- the leadership of an institutional church just as in need of confession and repentance as any of us (and maybe more) -- tried to emulate the saints in all this. And failing that, maybe they just could follow the example of a Saint.

Monday, April 12, 2010

IT'S TRUE! Onion not making that s*** up!

Until now, I always thought The Onion was just making stuff up.

You know what I'm talking about -- for instance, the "fake" advice columns like "Ask a Bee" and "Ask a Faulknerian Idiot Man-Child."

You'll note that I put "fake" in quotation marks. That's because I don't think The Onion is making that stuff up -- at least not all of it. The was brought home by an Italian Catholic website,
Pontifex, which apparently has run a real-life version of "Ask a Faulknerian Idiot Man-Child Bishop."

AND THE retired bishop then went on at length about how the recent media scrutiny of the Vatican is all a big conspiracy put together by the Christ-killers. From London, The Times reports :
A retired Italian bishop has provoked fury by reportedly suggesting that “Zionists” are behind the current storm of accusations over clerical sex abuse shaking the Vatican and the Catholic Church.

Monsignor Giacomo Babini, the Bishop Emeritus of Grossetto, was quoted by the Italian Roman Catholic website Pontifex as saying he believed a “Zionist attack” was behind the criticism of the Pope, given that it was “powerful and refined” in nature.

Bishop Babini denied he had made any anti-Semitic remarks. He was backed by the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI), which issued a declaration by Bishop Babini in which he said: “Statements I have never made about our Jewish brothers have been attributed to me.”

However, Bruno Volpe, who interviewed Monsignor Babini for Pontifex, confirmed that the bishop had made the statement, which was reported widely in the Italian press today. Pontifex threatened to release the audio tape of the interview as proof.

Monsignor Babini’s reported comments follow a series of statements from senior Vatican cardinals blaming a “concerted campaign” by “powerful lobbies” for accusations that Pope Benedict XVI was involved in covering up cases of clerical abuse both as Archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982 and subsequently as head of doctrine at the Vatican.

None has explicitly blamed Jews or any other group. However Bishop Babini, 81, said Jews “do not want the Church, they are its natural enemies”. He added: “Deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are deicides [God killers].”

He was quoted as saying that Hitler was “not just mad” but had exploited German anger over the excesses of German Jews who in the 1930s had throttled the German economy.

Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee said Monsignor Babini was using “slanderous stereotypes, which sadly evoke the worst Christian and Nazi propaganda prior to World War Two”.
YOU KNOW, by the time the Vatican gets through asking Catholics -- at least on this issue -- to believe several unbelievable things before breakfast, and by the time various Catholic clerics and laymen get through saying patently crazy things in defense of the church, you have to wonder how many people will be scandalized right out of believing in God.

And scandalized right into believing
The Onion.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Vatican today: Homina, homina, homina

What The New York Times started, The Associated Press just might have finished.

The signature above is that of "Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger," who would become Pope Benedict XVI. That signature was on a 1985 document uncovered by the AP, a document in which the cardinal said, in effect, he didn't think it was such a great idea to laicize a pederast priest in California.

Presented with an incriminating document, Vatican officials insisted that the American press believe the unbelievable. Here is a bit of the AP report, but do go to MSNBC and read the whole thing:

The future Pope Benedict XVI resisted pleas to defrock a California priest with a record of sexually molesting children, citing concerns including "the good of the universal church," according to a 1985 letter bearing his signature.

The correspondence, obtained by The Associated Press, is the strongest challenge yet to the Vatican's insistence that Benedict played no role in blocking the removal of pedophile priests during his years as head of the Catholic Church's doctrinal watchdog office.

The letter, signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was typed in Latin and is part of years of correspondence between the Diocese of Oakland and the Vatican about the proposed defrocking of the Rev. Stephen Kiesle.

The Vatican confirmed Friday that it was Ratzinger's signature. "The press office doesn't believe it is necessary to respond to every single document taken out of context regarding particular legal situations," the Rev. Federico Lombardi said.

Another spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said the letter showed no attempt at a cover-up. "The then-Cardinal Ratzinger didn't cover up the case, but as the letter clearly shows, made clear the need to study the case with more attention, taking into account the good of all involved."

The diocese recommended removing Kiesle from the priesthood in 1981, the year Ratzinger was appointed to head the Vatican office that shared responsibility for disciplining abusive priests.

The case then languished for four years at the Vatican before Ratzinger finally wrote to Oakland Bishop John Cummins. It was two more years before Kiesle was removed.

In the November 1985 letter, Ratzinger says the arguments for removing Kiesle are of "grave significance" but added that such actions required very careful review and more time. He also urged the bishop to provide Kiesle with "as much paternal care as possible" while awaiting the decision, according to a translation for AP by Professor Thomas Habinek, chairman of the University of Southern California Classics Department.

But the future pope also noted that any decision to defrock Kiesle must take into account the "good of the universal church" and the "detriment that granting the dispensation can provoke within the community of Christ's faithful, particularly considering the young age." Kiesle was 38 at the time.


Kiesle, who married after leaving the priesthood, was arrested and charged in 2002 with 13 counts of child molestation from the 1970s. All but two were thrown out after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a California law extending the statute of limitations.

He pleaded no contest in 2004 to a felony for molesting a young girl in his Truckee home in 1995 and was sentenced to six years in state prison.
LET US REVIEW. The Diocese of Oakland flat-out tells the Vatican one of its priests is a stone-cold child molester.

The Diocese of Oakland tells the Vatican it's really, really important that this clerical molester be drummed out of the priesthood.

The Vatican sits on the case for several years. And then when the diocese gets a response, in 1985, it's from Cardinal Ratzinger -- the future pope -- saying, basically, "Not so fast, boys. Is it really good for the universal church to be kicking kiddie rapers to the curb here?"

And now, when the wire service tells the Vatican what it has, officials there confirm it's Ratzinger's signature, but stress they don't "believe it is necessary to respond to every single document taken out of context regarding particular legal situations."

Translation into American English: "Oh, s***!"

Out of context? What the hell context justifies -- after being told, as an established fact, that a priest is a pervert and, in fact, has acted on his perversion . . . with children -- placing appearances over justice, over protecting Catholic children?

How do you finesse that which cannot be finessed?

is becoming quite plain. The Catholic Church -- and I am sure it is not alone among earthly institutions in this -- developed a culture of juridical and moral deviance when it came to its perception of, and its dealing with, pederasty. That culture was every bit as perverted as the child-raping priests it coddled and shielded from justice.

And Pope Benedict XVI was part of that culture. He bought into that culture. To the extent that he no longer buys into that culture, it is a relatively recent development in his long priestly vocation.

That seems clear, and yet the Vatican -- and many Catholics around the world -- cannot deal with that, almost as if admitting that the pope is human, possessing human frailties and committing human sins, would cause the whole edifice of the Catholic Church to come tumbling down.

O ye of little faith.

Obviously, we're still not done with the excuses, and we're certainly not done with the wagon-circling or the media-bashing. That, however, doesn't alter the fact that there really is only one thing left for the church to do -- something it absolutely requires of us mere laymen.


It is long past time for institutional Catholicism to confess its sins against God, against itself and especially against its children. It is long past time for the church to confess, to repent, to exhibit a "firm purpose of amendment" . . . and then to do penance.

Just do it. Otherwise, there will be hell to pay.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Taking the bishops to school?

Some commenters have reacted with surprise that Pope Benedict XVI has tackled the monster so directly.

OTHERS THINK he's whitewashing over the depth of the American episcopal rot that allowed the monster -- the Catholic Church's sexual-abuse crisis -- to run so amok for so long.

I think, given the occasion -- vespers with the U.S. bishops at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington -- and that he's a guest in this country, of the American Church, and that his remarks were shown live on EWTN and the cable-news channels, what we saw just might have been an exquisitely diplomatically correct taking of the American bishops to the woodshed. And not just over the sexual predators who hid behind their Roman collars . . . and behind their enabling prelates.

Among the countersigns to the Gospel of life found in America and elsewhere is one that causes deep shame: the sexual abuse of minors. Many of you have spoken to me of the enormous pain that your communities have suffered when clerics have betrayed their priestly obligations and duties by such gravely immoral behavior. As you strive to eliminate this evil wherever it occurs, you may be assured of the prayerful support of God’s people throughout the world. Rightly, you attach priority to showing compassion and care to the victims. It is your God-given responsibility as pastors to bind up the wounds caused by every breach of trust, to foster healing, to promote reconciliation and to reach out with loving concern to those so seriously wronged.

Responding to this situation has not been easy and, as the President of your Episcopal Conference has indicated, it was “sometimes very badly handled”. Now that the scale and gravity of the problem is more clearly understood, you have been able to adopt more focused remedial and disciplinary measures and to promote a safe environment that gives greater protection to young people. While it must be remembered that the overwhelming majority of clergy and religious in America do outstanding work in bringing the liberating message of the Gospel to the people entrusted to their care, it is vitally important that the vulnerable always be shielded from those who would cause harm. In this regard, your efforts to heal and protect are bearing great fruit not only for those directly under your pastoral care, but for all of society.
IN HIS REMARKS, the pope didn't have to note what a mess some bishops made of things. But he did. Definite slam.

And did he have to remind the roomful of "shepherds" that "It is your God-given responsibility as pastors to bind up the wounds caused by every breach of trust . . . "? Ideally, no. Practically, yes.

So necessary that Benedict said it twice . . . "it is vitally important that the vulnerable always be shielded from those who would cause harm," coming just a paragraph later.

To tell you the truth, the entirety of the Holy Father's remarks to his brother bishops struck me as a comprehensive reminder to -- in short -- do your job, dammit.

Here in America, you are blessed with a Catholic laity of considerable cultural diversity, who place their wide-ranging gifts at the service of the Church and of society at large. They look to you to offer them encouragement, leadership and direction. In an age that is saturated with information, the importance of providing sound formation in the faith cannot be overstated. American Catholics have traditionally placed a high value on religious education, both in schools and in the context of adult formation programs. These need to be maintained and expanded. The many generous men and women who devote themselves to charitable activity need to be helped to renew their dedication through a “formation of the heart”: an “encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others” (Deus Caritas Est, 31). At a time when advances in medical science bring new hope to many, they also give rise to previously unimagined ethical challenges. This makes it more important than ever to offer thorough formation in the Church’s moral teaching to Catholics engaged in health care. Wise guidance is needed in all these apostolates, so that they may bear abundant fruit; if they are truly to promote the integral good of the human person, they too need to be made new in Christ our hope.

As preachers of the Gospel and leaders of the Catholic community, you are also called to participate in the exchange of ideas in the public square, helping to shape cultural attitudes. In a context where free speech is valued, and where vigorous and honest debate is encouraged, yours is a respected voice that has much to offer to the discussion of the pressing social and moral questions of the day. By ensuring that the Gospel is clearly heard, you not only form the people of your own community, but in view of the global reach of mass communication, you help to spread the message of Christian hope throughout the world.

Clearly, the Church’s influence on public debate takes place on many different levels. In the United States, as elsewhere, there is much current and proposed legislation that gives cause for concern from the point of view of morality, and the Catholic community, under your guidance, needs to offer a clear and united witness on such matters. Even more important, though, is the gradual opening of the minds and hearts of the wider community to moral truth. Here much remains to be done. Crucial in this regard is the role of the lay faithful to act as a “leaven” in society. Yet it cannot be assumed that all Catholic citizens think in harmony with the Church’s teaching on today’s key ethical questions. Once again, it falls to you to ensure that the moral formation provided at every level of ecclesial life reflects the authentic teaching of the Gospel of life.
YOU THINK THE BISHOPS would have figured all that out by now. And, by almost any measure, little of what the pope said needed to be done is being done -- at least effectively -- by the American Church. That is clear from the statistical data of the recent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, and it is clear to anyone who has toiled in the rocky fields of religious education or youth ministry.

You think a pope would have been content to stick to generalities and a review of the bright side of life. But he didn't.

Somebody had to say it. And, if you consider the speech and the context, you might conclude that the pope said a lot, indeed.

Can't wait to see what else Benedict has to say this week.