Don't expect miracles
The next pope is unlikely to do much to welcome women and gays
Traditionally an awe-inspiring, days-long jewel- and gold-encrusted spectacle throughout the history of major world events, the selection of a new Roman Catholic pope that’s currently under way in Rome can only be viewed by the modern-day faithful on this side of the world with disappointment, sorrow and outrage.
That’s largely because, while believing in virgin births and other “mysteries” of faith may be required for all Catholics, turning a blind eye toward cold, hard facts is quite another thing entirely. And if anything was apparent this week as the world’s attention turned to the 115 cardinals gathered in Vatican City to pick the next pontiff, it’s that the all-male leadership of the anti-child, anti-woman and anti-gay Catholic Church is in a state of extreme denial, unprepared to face the very real possibility that this archaic religious institution will soon be rendered irrelevant if things don’t change.
With the simply stunning news about the “retirement” of former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, himself rumored to be gay and living in the adopted guise of the rigidly dogmatic Pope Benedict XVI over these past eight years, came some glimmer of hope that the church would start softening its positions against women serving as priests, the use of contraception, abortion and gay lifestyles. Finally, many hoped, these blessed sisters would be recognized for their years of devotion and rewarded with priesthood for all their hard work, gays would be welcomed (as they are in most Protestant denominations) and priests might even be allowed to marry and experience true “fatherhood.”
Unfortunately, however, open discussion of these topics and goals has yet to occur. Not one of these cardinals to date — including our own Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles — has raised his voice to challenge these ancient prohibitions that are doing little more than contributing daily to the loss of church members. Mahony and his fellow cardinals all appear content to simply continue with the extremely conservative policies handed down by Pope John Paul II — an anti-communist who opposed women clergy and allowing gays into the fold, as well as Marxism-based Liberation Theology throughout Central and South America — and then dutifully carried out by Ratzinger.
The do-nothing Ratzinger’s “retirement” (the first such move by a pope in nearly 600 years) was as unusual as it remains suspicious, with people in a number of archdioceses around the world still suffering from the physical and psychological wounds caused by sexually abusive priests, all-too-common claims that only seem to grow in number as time goes on.
Mahony, except for his rather progressive stands on immigration and capital punishment, has over the years wholeheartedly backed church policy right down the line. Presently, however, the cardinal finds himself stripped of all official duties with the Archdiocese of LA following revelations that he covered up more than previously believed for sex-offending priests. Nonetheless, Mahony still has a vote for pope, which he plans to cast, leaving all the scandal and controversy behind him in LA for the time being.
It’s said that God works in mysterious ways. And maybe something like that has happened in this case, because it seems even Rome wasn’t far enough to run to get away from yet another nasty priest-involved sex scandal, this one involving one of Mahony’s colleagues, English Cardinal Keith O’Brien. Great Britain’s highest-ranking Catholic leader, O’Brien was forced to resign and forego the papal conclave after he allegedly made improper sexual advances toward three priests and one former priest.
While Mahony and his fellow red-garbed wannabe popes sit around in an underground chamber of the Vatican, meeting secretly over which of them should serve as the next Holy See, may Cardinal O’Brien’s absence from their midst serve as a reminder to all of them of the disgrace, shame, sorrow and pain that the church’s harmful and idiotic war on sex has wrought.
Hopefully, the plight of this cardinal, no doubt an otherwise good and righteous man, will serve as an example to the rest of these men of the hypocrisy and lies they are all living with and have foisted upon the rest of us to bear and justify.
Perhaps this situation — and others like it — will open the eyes of these powerful anointed men of God to the error of their ways and give them the strength required to do what they know in their hearts to be the right thing by allowing all of God’s children to participate in the Sacraments.
One can only pray that some day reason, truth and equality will finally prevail over the power of patriarchy, dishonesty and fear within the church’s hierarchy.
Just don’t expect any miracles.