Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday: Benedict at the Pillar Being Scourged, and the Place Beyond Alienation

Well, the Catholic church never fails to disappoint, does it?  Under its current leadership, it keeps working overtime to fulfill even the most abysmal predictions one can project for it.

When the revelations about what Benedict knew when first began to break, I predicted that we’d quickly see fierce push-back that would target some or all of the following, as the “real” problem to be overcome in a crisis centered on the rape of children and the cover-up of that rape by religious authorities:

The malicious secular media, especially the New York Times;

The gays, who have declared thermonuclear war on the church, according to Benedict’s old-boy media pals;

That wily old enemy, the Freemasons;

That other wily old enemy, the Jews;

The wiliest enemy of all, the old Dickens himself.

And I’ve sadly turned out to be fairly on-target with those predictions, though after the bishop of Regensburg, Gerhard Müller, floated the Free Mason conspiracy theory, I haven’t seen it re-emerging again.  Some kinds of intramural ecclesiastical gossip—the Masons and Jews as the enemy—are perhaps best left unaired these days, outside the walls of rectories, bishops’ palaces, and the Curia.

And though the Jews-as-malefactor charge isn’t being pushed openly as the wild, malicious, take-no-prisoners spin gets underway, it’s worth nothing that it’s hidden deep—the worm at the heart of the apple—inside the charge that the some high-profile media venues are anti-Catholic.  And Bill Donohue, whose well-funded right-wing Catholic League organization is assisting the hierarchy in pushing the gays-as-problem meme, is a notorious anti-Semite who continues to make grossly prejudiced statements about the Jews as the enemy of the Catholic church in media interviews.

But it’s Good Friday now, and let’s turn our attention from the media circus and remember what’s really important during this Holy Season:

As you listen to the gospel narrative of Jesus’s passion today, don’t forget, it’s Benedict being scourged at the pillar today.

And it’s priests who are really suffering in the church today, as the extent of the abuse crisis and its cover-up are made public.

That’s right.  Not the laity.  And certainly not the thousands of people who have been abused by Catholic clerics.

It’s the pope who is being scourged and priests who are the real victims of the crisis.  As they have always done, they incarnate Christ and his suffering in the world in a way that surpasses anything lay folks, with our feeble faith and insipid commitment, might imagine.

If there is a word to describe the place beyond alienation, I am there now, with my church.  And not exclusively because of the magnitude of the abuse crisis and the extent of its cover-up.

But primarily because of the willingness of my Catholic brothers and sisters of the center, who have every reason to know how arrant and foul this nonsense is, to keep promoting, protecting, and paying for it, as they play their fence-sitting game—on the one hand, on the other hand—while children are being raped and the authority figures whose salaries they’re paying cover up the rape.  As Catholics of the center write op-ed pieces and blog postings slamming the New York Times for telling the truth.