Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Little Less catholic Every Day

So I was riding the subway early this afternoon, and noted with the part of my brain that can still recite the Lord's prayer the number, and variety, of people holding palms after apparently leaving church this morning.

That's the reality of urban Catholicism in the 21st century: not just man and woman, but every color and hue getting ready for Easter. The church is still, in an important form, catholic as well as Catholic: universal, at least in its potential. It's been a long time since I felt the urge to join them in the pews, but this afternoon was a little moment of happiness for me. It's like watching a joyous family in the other booth at a restaurant: you're not part of the group, but you can still recognize the happiness other people have on a nice occasion.

The Pope, it seems, had a different revelation on Palm Sunday, and decided to share it in his sermon:
Pope Benedict today risked inflaming opinion as he appeared to round on critics of the Catholic church over the widening sexual abuse scandal, saying he would not "be intimidated by ... petty gossip".

The 82-year-old pontiff led tens of thousands of people in a Palm Sunday service in St Peter's square. He did not mention the scandal engulfing the church directly, but parts of his sermon alluded to it.

The pope said that faith in God helped lead one "towards the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion".

He also spoke of how man can sometimes "fall to the lowest, vulgar levels" and "sink into the swamp of sin and dishonesty".
This is all of a piece with the general response of the hierarchy in the last weeks, which has basically amounted to a) Other people molest kids, not just priests, so b) shut up, that's why.

Amazing that the disciples of Christ, inheritors to the throne of St. Peter, and a bunch of dudes who literally claim to have the clipboard at the velvet rope of heaven, are reduced to pointing out that they're no better than any other large institution. That they don't see how this undercuts every possible claim to authority -- scriptural, moral, and everything else -- says quite a bit about them.

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