Monday, April 12, 2010

Bubba Bubba and Hubba Hubba: The Pope's Gallant Lads Strike Again

And now with the Latin: two weekends ago, Benedict’s gallant papal lads were all on about Ratzinger the abstracted academic missing important memos, memos that (and who can really say? do you know what goes on inside chanceries and the Vatican?) may even have been written in vanishing ink, for all we know.  Memos that landed on his desk when he was archbishop of Munich.  You know, the ones about pedophile priests treated by trained professionals who begged church officials not to reassign those priests because they would surely abuse minors again.

This weekend, it’s the Latin.  Grave heads shaking at the penchant of the anti-Catholic media (and we all know who lurks behind their curtain) to miss the point in reporting about the Vatican.  Because they don’t, you see, know Latin.

It plainly says Convolutum toadium obsequiam.  Anyone who knows even a smidgeon of Latin and how the Vatican thinks and talks realizes that this is saying, “Give due paternal solicitude to the priest who ties up little boys,” and not, “Give all paternal solicitude to the priest who ties up little boys.”  Get it right, won’t you!

How can they possibly miss that all-significant due?  Which means it was not about removing him from the priesthood at all, but about laicizing him, for God’s sake.  Why can’t the media realize that the Sacred Dicastery of Bubba Bubba always writes to the Sacred Dicastery of Hubba Hubba in form letters composed in holyspeak that only the Vatican and its Sunday-afternoon armchair quarterbacks truly understand?

Long, detailed charts to show us that the timing of it all, from the first form letter of Bubba to Hubba, precludes the conclusion that the priest—he was being laicized, don’t you see?—might possibly tie up and rape another child.  And remember that it’s not the Vatican that’s responsible for any of this Dicastery business, anyway: it’s corrupt homosexual activists and nefarious coteries of homosexual pederasts in the chanceries and the Curia who have been engineering the whole sordid abuse affair for years.

Really.  That’s where we want to go now, as Catholics.

Grave armchair quarterbacks stroking their beards as they pore over Latin dictionaries and charts of Vatican Dicasteries and elaborate timelines about documents possibly written in vanishing ink want to go there.   And to the gay-bashing and Jew-baiting theories.

Not to the children who are abused.  Not to the survivors of childhood sexual abuse, who continue standing outside the churches to which these grave bearded men with Latinate inclinations have continued to flock, happily and with seemingly untroubled consciences, even after the revelations from 2002 forward.

Those brothers and sisters, the survivors of abuse, are as invisible as ever to the newly minted Latin scholars, as are the thousands upon thousands of gay and lesbian Catholics who have been quietly and effectively disappeared from the Catholic church from 1986 forward.  And the countless women who are fed up with living in a church that has turned itself into the Christian version of a fundamentalist Islamic state, in its attitudes toward and treatment of women.  And the theologians who were professionally trained to read the Latin texts.

Those aren’t the voices we’ve been hearing this past weekend, as the grave beards wag about the precise parsing of bloviatissima as opposed to bloviatora .  And that’s, of course, why the church is in the mess it’s in now, with only 12% of Americans telling Pew researchers that Pope Benedict is doing an excellent or good job of handling the abuse situation, and one quarter of Germany’s Catholics reporting that they are thinking of abandoning the Catholic church.

The gallant papal lads still don’t get it.  The crisis we’re undergoing now has happened precisely because of the boys’ club mentality that is so screamingly apparent in their current chatter about Latin form letters and Dicasteries.  We’re in crisis because everyone except the members of that boys’ club has been invisible for some years now to all the boys in the club, from the Vatican down through the chanceries and rectories to the network of media defensores fidei so quick to take up the cudgels in continued battle on behalf of their patriarchal club right now.

We’re in crisis because women’s voices have not counted.  And women are certainly not conspicuous among those grabbing the Latin dictionaries and Dicastery charts now to defend the poor embattled hierarchy.

We’re in crisis because gay and lesbian voices have not been at the table.  We’re in crisis because theologians have been muzzled, disciplined for doing what God calls them to do, and hounded out of the church, one after another, in the last two papacies.  And we’re in crisis above all because the voices of those who have survived clerical sexual abuse simply are not there, in the current Latin-and-Dicastery chit-chat. 

They’re still outside, asking to be heard—every bit as much as they were in 1985 when Cardinal Ratzinger wrote Bishop Cummins, asking him to delay action against Fr. Kiesle “for the good of the universal church.”

And no amount of frills and frippery about church Latin or Vatican flow charts—it says graviosissima not graviora! It was the Dicastery of Abba Abba!—is capable of concealing that central fact from the public’s eye now.

It was about the children all along.  And the fact that, even at this late date, the pope’s gallant lads fail to see that point, is shocking in the extreme.

Their blindness about whom they’ve chosen to regard as invisible while they defend the indefensible is a moral indictment of an entire system of thought and of an entire way of doing business that has dominated the life of the Catholic church at this point in its history.  It’s an indictment of a system of thought and a way of doing business that could seriously consider the proposition that it’s about the priest tying up and raping little boys and not about those little boys.

It’s an indictment of those defending this system who, in their rush to defend it, do not even seem to recognize that any defense of that system which continues its refusal to see and make the lives of survivors of clerical sexual abuse count is as morally rotten as the system that is being defended.  And it’s a terrible indictment, indeed, of those who, while defending this system, have been for years now informing us that only they and other members of their club hold the key to moral insight for all the rest of us.