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March 13, 2009

"Pope Admits Mistake"

Roy Meachum

That semi-apology appeared in The New York Times. The rest of the headline narrowed the impact considerably; the admission came "In Letter to Bishops."


I can't imagine any group that would react less to a grievous fault in Vatican affairs; they are wedded and dedicated to the system that brought their personal privileges and comfortable circumstances.


Nearly to a man they owe their episcopal crosses to the former Cardinal Josef Ratzinger; his power and eventual papacy were rewards for maintaining the church and Catholics in check while his boss kissed the earth in many parts of the world. The cardinal's boss was, of course, John Paul Il.


The Polish prelate came to Rome from the church militant; the clergy and the laity marched in lock-step on everything. Total unanimity was the chief way Catholics and Catholicism survived under constant and sometime brutal attack from Atheistic communism, so argue Vatican conservatives. Theirs are the only voices presently heard since moderates and liberal were shuffled along years ago. Precisely that reality permitted the pope to welcome back the radical "bishops" John Paul kicked out.


An important provocation for the late pope was the total illegality of the rites and procedures that allowed them to take on a bishop's mantle and to insist on being greeted as "your Excellency." That came about under the aegis of a French archbishop who chose to reject all changes and innovations made at the Counsels of Vatican II. That's why John Paul cut them free. Apparently, it was the same reason for the sudden embraces from the present wearer of St. Peter's ring.


Pope Benedict has very successfully trimmed church membership to those who agree with him, and others who simply don't give a damn. That may be too harsh. If they open their mouth, they must be prepared for virtual excommunication. In more than several communities, church banning could result in loss of friends and customers.


After all, it's only a church, they say, and protest they never intended to question seriously the men ordained. Over the years the empowering ceremony has yet to be shared with women. Overwhelming apathy on the part of the overwhelming majority allows the Vatican curia to dictate how a "good Catholic" reacts in morally and ethically questionable circumstances.


For Benedict XVI to welcome into the Vatican's fold the very doubtful clergy John Paul II excommunicated is a great moral crime. Fortunately, one of the four pseudo bishops offended against God and man by doubting the Holocaust. He questions official numbers of the children, women and men marched into gas ovens and murdered by similarly bestial methods. That's why the discussion lingers on.


In his letter the pope expresses astonishment and surprise that any of this nation's bishops actually quibbled with his welcoming gesture to heretics. He veered toward condemning those who doubted his initial judgment to allow the "heretics" to return as Holy Mother Church's obedient children – keeping their bishops' miters intact.


In a time when we need spiritual comfort more, we contend with dumb and vicious church politics.


My comment comes from Psalm 129. In Latin it starts "De Profundis.'' In English: "Out of the depths I have cried to you, Lord."


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