Newsweek and Mary: Part II (ccr)

Our church.

My friend, Tim, sends powerful comments to my rambles.  His military training and his life experiences offer perspectives to be shared.  Tim and I grew up on the same block, attended the same schools through high school and cherished our St. Peter’s/Ward High School/Kansas City, Kansas connections.

Tim’s latest comment contains the line, “It amazes me that the subject (sexual abuse of children by the clergy)  is almost totally ignored and yet it is far more important than any other in OUR church.  The cross hairs make me proud to see the interest level increased, but a few heads must roll to clean the house.”

Another friend, Pat C., writes of her experience teaching middle school.  While studying the statistics of Vatican City, a student expressed astonishment over the population of that city, 100% male.   Pat questions the health of such a place where only males live, work, converse and make decisions affecting the Catholic Church.  In addition, the cardinals and bishops spend their days behind guarded walls, protected from the clear and certain knowledge of the ramifications of the cover-up.

In his Sunday homily, a local Monsignor quotes Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York.  In his book To Whom Shall We Go, Dolan writes of our love for our church.  One of the lines, “We shall never embarrass her (the church)” does send a shudder to the soul.

The Newsweek cover story of April 12 , page 36, used Gerard David’s 1509 painting titled, ” The Virgin Among Virgins”.  To me,it is an ugly depiction of sad women, eyes averted or downcast and all have remarkably similar features.  Mary, with Jesus on her lap, is the center focus.  Granted the artistic merit is amazing in so many ways, but the sadness overwhelms.

If you have come this far with me, Gentle Reader, you might wonder why I tug at these pieces, attempting to weave a whole cloth.

My tapestry is a search for what brought us to this place.  Tim knows the importance of a thorough rooting out of evil, no matter what title covers that evil.  Pat C. looks at history and circumstance that narrowed and darkened the pathway to this cover-up.  Msgr., quoting a line that admonishes against embarrassing our church, tightens the web.  Gerard David’s painting speaks to a strange crown of honor given to virginity.  Thread by thread by thread…

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Newsweek Magazine Cover Story: What Would Mary Do? (ccr)

Part I.

I have been quiet lately.  Many of my early rambles lament the lack of civil discourse when facing difficult issues.   Sexual abuse of children by ordained clergy is the subject of most of my current rambles.  These blogs border on tunnel vision  pain.

This will not go away and I am increasingly disinclined towards civil discourse.

Newsweek Magazine, April 12, 2010, asks what Mary, Jesus’ mother, would do about the sexual abuse of children and the cover-up that is unraveling dark thread by dark thread.  The subtitle of the Newsweek story  is “How Women Can Save The Catholic Church From Its Sins”.

For Gentle Readers who might not know, Catholics believe that Mary, the Virgin mother of Jesus was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and born without original sin.

Backtracking to Adam and Eve, we review the story that Eve picked the apple in disobedience and her sin (given to and shared with Adam) requires cleansing through Baptism for entry to the Catholic Church.   I will grant that the Garden of Eden story is parable and that the apple was a sin to be plucked in any guise.  But wasn’t that Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil a bit of a set-up?  Wasn’t the mind of humans designed to be curious and seek out all knowledge?  Wasn’t a simple request that the first humans acknowledge the power of the creator enough?  Why a test without a background of learning?  Fear, perhaps.

Fast forward to the current Vatican inquiry into the lives of the women of the church who profess vows and become Sisters in various orders such as Benedictine, Carmelite, Sisters of Charity, Little Sisters of the Poor, etc.  For those of us raised in the church and taught by these dedicated nuns, the inquiry seems ludicrous.  For any family blessed by the tender care administered by nursing nuns the inquiry is ludicrous.   For women, children and families receiving help and comfort today, the inquiry is ludicrous.   These women were  (and are) the underpaid, underappreciated, undervalued steel girders of the Catholic Church.

If…

If Mary ran the church….if any woman could penetrate the power structure of the Vatican…if more women participated in the inquiries pertaining to the sexual abuse of children and the cover-up by the church of the Good Shepard…

Newsweek Magazine, March 29, 2010 (ccr)

This is not one of my usual rambles.  Rather it is a way of thanking Lisa Miller for writing a powerful feature on the abuse of children by ordained priests, Catholic representatives of Jesus–Jesus the Son of God in Catholic tradition and belief.

One of Ms. Miller’s most chilling sentences was the last in her piece.  “For an institution that protects itself above its children may not, after all, offer the best Sunday lesson.”

She also quotes historian Garry Wills, “I pay no attention to popes anymore–they have nothing to do with the Gospel.”

Another quote attributed to Rev. Richard McBrien seems to indicate that the church believes that Cardinal Bernard Law’s ‘demotion’ to Archpriest of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome is justice served.

One final word in the interest of a rather ludicrous concept of fairness.  Virtus is a church initiated program designed for presentations to the laity involved with children under the Catholic Church umbrella.  I hold a Certificate from Virtus training.   I will continue to search for stories of  Catholic lay persons accused of abusing children and then being protected by the Church.

Christopher Hitchens And The Olympics

Tip-toe.  Learned that as a child, reinforced through earliest education and only recently beginning to dance with a heavier footprint.  But still, I do tend to dance, always aware that you, Gentle Reader, take your own snapshots.  Are  you are beginning to suspect a ramble?

The February 15 issue of Newsweek magazine has an article, “Fool’s Gold” by Christopher Hitchens.  I wish that I had the background and the talent to write as Hitchens.  He pulled my vapors into  a clear and descriptive chronicle of some of the worst of human nature.

The Hitchens article reviews a long and detailed history of bitter conflicts created by sport rivalries.  He notes a current example of true sportsmanship with Canada closing practice spots to all but Canadian contenders.   Hitchens reviews a recent list of what he calls depressing traits of the human personality.  Among the print-inch leaders were guns in locker rooms, golf clubs in the early morning hours,  dogs being maimed and tortured to induce fighting, and steroid use to gain illegal advantage over opponents.

The gag reflex comes to mind, especially when forced to imagine what pain, calculated and deliberate pain, was administered to animals.  Spectators enjoyed and wagered on the sight of blood and carnage.

We have vulgarized sportsmanship  through a need for hero-worship, a need for them vs. us, a belief that physical prowess excuses the inexcusable, and with the trappings of glamour, money and me-first.

Wonder how the current money crunch in education might be affected if dollars devoted to major sporting venues cut back–maybe by 1/5–and the money channeled to struggling school districts.

Please don’t tell me that cutting sports budgets would create more unemployment.   Entertainers at half-time shows probably won’t miss that payday.   High profile sports figures could survive quite nicely if their pay dropped a couple of notches.   Ditto agents, promoters, publicists and front office people.

As with most of our life decisions, it is a matter of priorities.  What do we value?  What do we hold most dear?