The world sure is a crazy place isn’t it? Seems like only yesterday newspaper headlines and top news stories on TV, radio and the internet blasted the Catholic Church for Her sex scandals, pedophile priests, the massive cover-up by Church officials including our own Cardinal Mahoney and of course the gigantic payouts to the victims of these troubled clerics. (Our donation dollars hard at work)
Yes the Catholic Churches dirty laundry was all right there for us to see, day after day for weeks on end. Obviously not ‘all’ of their misdeeds were uncovered, but enough to stir the fire of Catholics and non-Catholics alike. People were appalled by the Churches lack of action in these matters and well they should be, taking problem priests and giving them little or no counseling, then simply relocating them to new parishes sometimes only miles away from their old one was absurd! Throwing hush money at victims to make the problems go away was equally moronic! I really can’t believe the Church hierarchy approved of such unscrupulous action but they did, and they did it often for quite a long time.
And it wasn’t only local officials who were involved, it’s become quite evident that the Vatican too was aware of the problem. One banner headline on the internet screamed “What did the Pope know and when did he know it?” When in deed? But as all things do, this period of bad press passed and the stories of scandal and duplicity began to dwindle and were soon gone from the headlines and buried deep within the newspapers pages.
Fast forward a few months and once again the Catholic Church is headline news. However this time it’s news of a very different sort. It began a few weeks ago with the unexpected announcement of the Pope’s decision to step down, something that hadn’t occurred in 600 years. For a day or two there was some minor speculation that the Pope’s retirement had something to do with the priestly sex scandal and cover-up business, but that didn’t last long. No, the big story was the Papacy vacancy and who might take the crown. On Sunday for instance the front Page was covered with photos of the Cardinals the so called “Princes of the Church”, while buried several pages deep was yet another story about another enormous 10 million dollar payout by the Church, old news compared to the election of a new pope.
Yeah, since the announcement by Pope Benedict XVI on February 11 that he would be resigning, the eyes of the world have been focused on the Vatican, the heart of the Roman Catholic Church and they’re loving it. The 115 cardinals who make up the Conclave have been given rock star status, running around the Vatican like demigods, followed by throngs of reporters and an admiring public, taking time to shake hands, kiss babies , and having their ass- I mean their rings kissed, enjoying every second of their 15 minutes of fame, paparazzi fodder.
Then on Tuesday the Conclave of Cardinals ceremoniously began the historic selection process and for everyone else the waiting game began. Behind closed doors the balloting began, while outside all eyes on the skies waiting to see that white plume of smoke signifying that a new pope has been chosen. Yesterday the Conclave completed their task and the crowd numbering in the tens of thousands waiting in the rain in St Peter’s Square erupted in cheers as the white smoke rose above the Sistine Chapel. In less than two days the Conclave had selected a new Pope. Pope Jorge of Argentina or should I say Pope Francis, the new Bishop of Rome.
Okay so now the Catholic Church has a new leader. I wouldn’t hold my breath awaiting any big changes in the Church if I were you. Not much will change. If you were hoping for fresh and innovative ideas, you can forget about it! Jorge is 76 years old. The only thing new and fresh about him is the new wardrobe he will acquire. The powers that be in the Vatican, those power mongers who really run things would never let someone who wouldn’t toe the line of the Church politic become Pope, no way. There will be no groundbreaking or earth shattering changes in the Churches future. Sadly, the big topics like birth control, married priests, women priests, and of course homosexuality will not be addressed anytime soon. The old guys rule the roost and until we have a younger, more progressive Pope in Rome, things Catholic will remain status quo.
I can honestly tell you I don’t like all the fanfare, pageantry, pomp and circumstance. I see this Conclave of Cardinals as nothing more than an assemblage of priests, priests with titles. The Pope too, is simply a priest with a title, just as our president is the leader of our country or the Grand Wizard headed the Ku Klux Klan. I’m sorry but the Cardinals are not princes of the church or the darlings of the press they’re made out to be. The last several days these Cardinals have been basking in the limelight and I think that is sinful. A priest is supposed to be “a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, in his mind and heart he is to be the same as Jesus himself.” (Philippians 2. 5) The Cardinals I’ve watched the past week or so do not in any way shape or form appear Christlike to me. They are called to be “alter Christus” – another Christ, but I can’t, even in my wildest dreams imagine Christ behaving as they do. What I see in some Cardinals is pride, arrogance and a sense of pompousness that is shameful and downright sinful.
I believe many of these priest with titles have lost their way and have strayed far from the flock to feed their egos. Their titles and authority have gone to their heads. They have forgotten the true nature of their calling. After all, they are men first and men are weak, men make mistakes and “to err is human” right? These men may have begun their pilgrimage on the right foot, dedicating their lives to Christ and His teachings, but somewhere along their journey they tasted power, enjoyed it’s flavor and craved more. I don’t believe God is pleased with these miscreants and the time will come when they will know the Lord’s displeasure.
Until that time comes, all we can do is pray, pray for their deliverance and pray that the new Pope Francis is a true man of Christ who possesses the courage, strength and faith, to lead the Catholic Church to righteousness once again.