Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pope riding into the sunset

Benedict XVI is taking his popemobile & riding off into the sunset. Conservative Catholics everywhere are tearing up & doing panegyrics. One deluded mourner in  Texas said she felt he was her friend--though since his days in Hitlers Youth until his departure he seems to have made more enemies than friends among those who actually know him. His colleagues in the College of Cardinals (a hot bed of religious conservatism) called him “The Enforcer” & “God’s Rotweiler.” He’s used different tactics to disown his past as a Nazi from outright lying to claiming he was conscripted. But even if we concede conscription, how does he explain that his politics have only gone down hill from fascism?

He represents the extremely conservative faction of the Catholic Church--not the change & aggiornamento of John XXIII but the tradition of Pius XII who collaborated with the Nazis &  John Paul II who was a stone-cold reactionary. He doesn’t have a lot of tolerance for democracy & labels those who disagree with his ex cathedra pronouncements as heretics. He was staunch in defending Catholicism’s traditional misogynist & homophobic policies. His crude utterances on religion managed to offend almost every other denomination on the planet from Islam to Judaism to the spiritual beliefs of indigenous people in Latin America.

He issues periodic calls for world peace from that balcony in St. Peters Square but hasn’t done one damn thing to move it forward. In fact, when US war minister, Leon Panetta, had a recent audience with him, Benedict said, "Thank you for helping to protect the world." It doesn’t get more bellicose than that!

Nothing in his tenure better defines our man then his handling of the clerical child sexual abuse scandal. John Paul II named him head of the office of the Inquisition (which now has another name) in 1981 just as the scandal was breaking wind publicly--making him the Vatican’s point man handling the scandal & enforcing a policy of secrecy, cover-up, & protecting the perpetrators from exposure & prosecution. Every attempt to rewrite his role & make him a champion of children is belied by the public record & the thunderous condemnation of the victims.

He says he’s going to spend retirement doing more writing. He hasn’t left an odious thing unsaid so we don’t know what more he has to add--except of course the truth about his culpability in covering up for pedophiles. We hope he can make the transition from papal bull to full disclosure.

(Photo by AFP)

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