Today in My History
Room with a View
Books Read in 2015
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Letter from Brayan
The Philosophy of Juice & Crackers
THE PONTIFF AND THE CLERK
1 October 2015
First, I chose the background field of stars and the sailor smiley for this month because we will be going on an ocean cruise later. I figure that sooner or later we are going to see a field of stars like this and, while the crew of the Viking ship probably won't wear this kind of hat, it seemed appropriate for this journal.
It's no secret that I left the Catholic church many years ago, for many reasons, most of which still exist. At the time I left the church, John Paul was pope. I had nothing against him personally. Seemed like a nice grandfatherly kind of pope, though it was under him that the sex scandal broke and it was handled (or not) abominably.
During the time the sex scandals were going on, the extensive holdings of the church in Boston were transferred to Rome so that they could not be garnished during the sex trials. Boston's Cardinal Law, forced to resign because of the sex scandal, was brought to Rome where he was given a high appointment by John Paul. (There are rumors that he alleged left just hours before state troopers arrived with subpoenas seeking his grand jury testimony.)
When JP died, the ONLY Cardinal in the entire College of Cardinals that I prayed would not be elected was Cardinal Ratzinger, the most conservative, strictest of the cardinals with whom I was familiar (admittedly not that many). But against my express wishes, they went ahead and elected him anyway.
Benedict XVI was everything I hated about the papacy. He embraced the royalty of it, the jewels, the robes, the luxury accommodations, the limousines. He had rings on his fingers and for all I know bells on his toes (but who could see them under those red slippers?) Benedict led the move to take the church back to previous centuries. He wanted to return to the Latin mass, he "reintroduced traditional papal garments." I was thrilled when he resigned.
But along comes Pope Francis. A man of simple tastes, who drove himself in his VW to the Vatican on the first day of his papacy. He doesn't wear jewels or crowns, or gold or velvet. He doesn't ride in a limo. He doesn't live in a luxury apartment. He seems genuinely concerned with bettering the world rather than puffing himself up.
I don't agree with all of his positions, especially about the gay community and women's place in the church, but he at least had a more conciliatory tone when speaking of these issues.
We had a Popeageddon here in this country last week and Frances was everybody's darling. Everywhere he went throngs of crowds were there. He spoke of world peace and the danger of climate change. He kissed babies and turned down a fancy state dinner to eat at a homeless shelter. He exemplified everything that I have loved about this pope .... not enough to bring me back to the church, but enough to make me feel more positive about the papacy again.
And then the religious fanatics brought her to Washington and in one press release it seems that all the good will that Frances brought with him was wiped out because he allegedly spent 15 minutes with the Rowan, Kentucky County Clerk. Now that's all anybody is talking about. People who were singing the Pope's praises a few days ago are now hating him for what that meeting showed.
James Martin, S.J. wrote an excellent piece which gave another way of looking at this meeting that is being so ballyhooed by the likes of the Family Research Council and other pro-life organizations. He gives a possible scenario that I had wondered about myself. There are no photos of the event and all the Vatican has acknowledged was that he did meet with her, but I'm wondering if he even knew who she was. I envision the likes of New York's Cardinal Dolan in collusion with Mike Huckabee seizing the opportunity and rushing the clerk (who is not Catholic, by the way) to where the Pope was greeting a bunch of people. Was he briefed on her story? Or was she just another visitor who earned the right to meet him? She says he told her to "be strong." Be strong in her convictions to disobey the laws of the United States? or be strong in her faith? Sounds like something he might say to anybody who came to shake his hand. He asked her to pray for him, she boasts. Heck, he asked EVERYONE to pray for him. And this was at the end of several grueling days for the pontiff. He might have been kinda tired.
Look, I have lots of complaints about this pope, but it's nice that I also have a lot of good feelings too (which I have not felt about Popes for a very long time) and I hate that some opportunistic politicians have used him for their own agenda....and that it seems to have negated much of the good will that he garnered in the time outside of that 15 minute secret meeting.
Let us hope that his vision for the world and his challenge to people regarding immigration, climate change, etc. and not one brief politicized moment will be the ultimate lasting legacy of this trip.
As my friend diane says :
I met the previous Pope, shook his hand and was given a rosary.
I doubt very much that he agreed with my feminism or views of the hierarchy,
but he did what Popes do - shook my hand, muttered something meaningless and
gave me the rosary. It's not a big deal. It certainly was not him validating
any of my beliefs or actions - or vice versa!
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