To say I'm a lapsed Catholic would be a gross understatement. I went to Catholic elementary school, and, because of motherly pressure, I became a converso at 14. However, since confirmation, I haven't really been to mass and don't miss it much. Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been 25 years since my last confession. In fact, the last time I went, a wedding a few years back, I drank so much communal wine (I know, I shouldn't have been up there in the first place) the deacon thanked me for bogarting the blood of Christ.
But, no matter how hard you try, you can never quite deny what you grew up being. I'll always be a Catholic. And, as such, I can't stop being pissed over my church and the man they'd chosen to lead it, that RatZinger, Benedict XVI.
I confess, I wasn't a big fan of John Paul II. I'll always feel his open hostility towards liberation theology got a lot of priests, nuns, and lay people killed in Latin America, which is probably why evangelicals are taking over there today.
Of course, Latin America's not alone in shedding its Catholic identity. Africa and Asia see its paltry numbers growing, but in North America and Europe, folks have fled the Church like it's a rampaging Cossack. When JPII died in April 2005, Rome found itself at a crossroads. They could have addressed the problem of their fleeing flock, opened up, liberalized, become more inclusive like they had with Vatican II. Instead, the beleaguered Cardinal College circled their wagons and retrenched, electing someone so reactionary, so venomous, I wouldn't be surprised if he jumped up, screamed, "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!" and start burning witches in St. Peter's Square.
In 2004, under the ancien regime, American cardinals threatened to deny John Kerry communion for his pro-choice stance. In 2007, RatZinger upped the ante by threatening pro-choice candidates with excommunication. No doubt he emboldened the American clergy to bully from their pulpits last year and exhort/-tort parishioners that they "risked their immortal soul" by voting pro-choice. South Carolinian Reverend Jay Scott Norman even told his flock they shouldn't take the Host if they voted for Barack "the most radical pro-abortion politician ever" Obama.
While I definitely don't agree, I can respect the Church's official pro-life position. Every life is sacred and should not be destroyed. Therefore, they have always been against abortion and capital punishment.
They've been quite vocal, have campaigned vigorously against the former. No one doubts the Church's views on fetal life. But what about penal death? Dead Man Walking aside, where are they when a convict has her/his life flushed away by lethal injection? Why don't I see them protesting outside prisons?
More importantly, why don't I see them protesting Republican candidates or any and all candidates who advocate for the death penalty? Wouldn't that consistency be truer to Church doctrine? Since there are probably few if any politicians who espouses the Church's particular pro-life stance, shouldn't priests deny every American voter the Eucharist? Shouldn't RatZinger excommunicate every Catholic politiician in these here United States?
So, either you excoriate all American Catholics for our political beliefs, or shut the hell up. You tell the liberation theologists to stop focusing so much on their politics and focus more on Jesus' being the Son of God. Hmmm, maybe someone should practice what they preach. And, if you're looking for a sermon, why not start with Isaiah? "My house shall be known as a house of prayer for all peoples."
This November, 54 percent of American Catholics told their clergy they'd gladly risk their "immortal souls" to save their temporal asses and voted for Obama, anyway. But it's not as though this Pope will listen to those results or the pleas to expand women's role within the Church or end priestly celibacy or stop their homophobic blame game with the child molestation scandals. And they definitely won't stop hiding the crimes' main facilitator, Cardinal Law, in Vatican City and bring him to justice. Nope, they are obstinately deaf, dumb, and blind to our modern age. They are hightailin' it outta Damascus and breaking the sound barrier down the road to perdition.
And RatZinger is proudly leading the charge. The man isn't satisfied with just enraging Catholics. He is hellbent and determined to piss everybody off (remember how he attacked Harry Potter?). This Pope finds the ideas of Christian brotherhood, love, and charity anathema to his very being. He doesn't want to bring the world together in understanding and respect but would rather fling us all in a steel cage and have us fight it out in a no-holds-barred conflagration of religious fury. To make John's Revelation flesh.
Of course, RatZinger didn't get where he is by not being clever. He uses Bush Babee obfuscation to somehow cloud his true intentions.
He often praises women for their early roles in the Church; he thinks their contribution "always has been a determining factor without which the church could not live"; Catholic mothers have "given life" and introduce that life to a "friendship with Jesus"; he even calls Mary Magdalene "the apostle of the apostles." Should women become priests? Hell no! Didn't you see that? "The apostle of the apostles." And, if you don't get that, here: "Jesus chose 12 men as fathers of the new Israel, 'to be with Him and to be sent out to proclaim the message.'" Stick to birthing, ladies--or at least the rhythm method.
There was his 2006 speech where he took on Islam: "The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war. He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman...'"
When furor naturally erupted, he did his best Lucille Ball mischievous blush to the world's outraged Ricky Ricardo. "Who me?!" He tried to hide behind quotes, but only the MSM was fooled. After all, this is the same RatZinger who in 2000 claimed that Muslims and other religions are "gravely deficient" and "depend on superstitions or other erros ... [and] constitute an obstacle to salvation."
He hid behind this newfangled field of "gender theories" this past Christmas after he infuriated gays, transsexuals, feminists, and (who knows) orthodox environmentalists when he admonished us all to preserve God's "natural" order of man and woman, calling for an "ecology of man." "The tropical forests do deserve our protection; but man, as a creature, does not deserve any less."
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi hearkened to said gender theory and said that the Pope did not specifically attack homosexuality. But RatZinger has spent a lot of his time attacking gays. Within months of ascending to the papacy, he effectively banned gays from the priesthood. Before that he authored the Church's 2003 battle plan to oppose gay marriage and adoption and has also written that gay discrimination is "not unjust discrimination" and that homosexuality represents "an intrinsic moral evil."
The Vatican and MSM like to treat every new RatZinger controversy as a mere slip of the tongue, a clerical Spoonerism that the Pope (no matter how consistent these "slips" are with his past views) somehow didn't mean. But one does not become Pope without being a political being. As Prof. Chester Gillis, chair of the theology department at Georgetown University has claimed, "He knows very well the kind of claims he makes have political implications. He wants to influence public policy in numerous places in the world and hopefully sway the powers that be to his side, especially on so-called social issues."
But it's RatZinger's actions last month that should've really told the world exactly where this Pope stands. As you've no doubt heard by now, the Pontiff rescinded the excommunication of four Society of St. Pius X bishops, a breakaway order started by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre that basically wanted to repeal Vatican II. Among the group of four was Bishop Richard Williamson, a known Holocaust denier.
Outrage immediately ensued. Germany's Central Council of Jews, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Yad Vashem, and Elie Wiesel condemned the action. Angela Merkel called on RatZinger to issue a "very clear" rejection of Holocaust denial, and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel cut ties with the Vatican.
In response, Rome came out ringing a false note. Lombardi stated, "The condemnation of statements that deny the Holocaust could not have been clearer, and from the context it is apparent that it referred to the positions of Bishop Williamson and to all similar positions." They even told Williamson to "distance himself" from his Holocaust fantasies--though he's yet to do it (watch the video below about the "quote-unquote Holocaust"). That doesn't really matter, though. As Monsignor Robert Wister pointed out, "To deny the Holocaust is not a heresy even though it is a lie. ... The excommunication can be lifted because he, Williamson, is not a heretic, but he remains a liar."
But Williamson is a heretic. He wasn't excommunicated for his anti-Semitism 20 years ago. He was booted because his unauthorized consecration was deemed "an unlawful and schismatic act" by JPII himself. RatZinger, who's always been sympathetic to the Society, reinstated the bishops as a thumb in the eye to his predecessor. The fact that Williamson's a Holocaust denier's only an added plum (maybe his time as a Nazi Youth and German soldier affected him more deeply than he claims?). It may even be more to the point.
The American press has been flummoxed by the move. They claim that Benedict has expended great effort in reaching out to Jews. Oh, he's made some cursory gestures, but he's exerted much more effort doing just the opposite. He's worked vigorously to accelerate the canonization of Pope Pius XII, who's believed to have turned a blind eye to the Holocaust. He's reinstated the Tridentine Mass, which includes a prayer for the conversion of Jews "from darkness to Catholicism." And now this.
I've heard a couple pundits claim that RatZinger's just attempting to "reach out" to unite the Church's disparate groups. I say he's reaching back to Catholicism's dark past. As Gillis noted, this man "knows very well" what he's doing, and what he's doing is courting reaction and disaster. All his little "malaprops" and "missteps" are designed to divide and drive the Church even further to the Right. He may occasionally pay lip service to this PC, multiculti modernity he finds himself in, and Lombardi will equivocate and parse and search for "context" when his Bossman makes a "boo boo"; but these mistakes are the point. He is hacking away at the modern age, attacking all he finds an affront to God, and his sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-Potterite agenda is designed to destroy these "abominations" in order to restore the Church to its proper place--the primacy of Christendom.
Unfortunately for Catholicism, RatZinger's efforts will only fling the Church headlong into obscurity. His atavistic brand of hate has no place in our world (well, maybe YouTube). Benedict knows this, but he doesn't care. Like Bush Babee, this Pope is certain that history and God will bear him out. We Americans couldn't bring ourselves to impeach Bush, and we had o wait him out for eight, long years. Look where that's gotten us! RatZinger won't be excommunicated. He's Pope for life, baby. There's no telling how long his reign of horrors will continue. For the love of Jesus, I hope it's not much longer. However, until Benedict goes to that Great Auto da fé in the Sky, he will continue to outrage, he won't stop spewing his vitriol, he will continue to cover gays, women, Arabs, Jews, all he finds blasphemous with his vile. And, while he does it, more and more will join me in a decidedly un-Catholic flock.