FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Politics and Wordplay at the Vatican

by David Vest

Following two days of meetings at the Vatican, and after a two-hour delay blamed on the fact that “we are all wordsmiths” by Bishop Wilton Gregory, American Cardinals released a couple of documents and staged a press conference in Rome.

It was notable chiefly for the absence of anyone the media wanted to talk to. Cardinal Law, possibly the most hated cleric in America at the moment, was attending to “other obligations.” Those who did show up seemed unclear what the new documents actually said.

The participants sent out to deflect the heat were Gregory, of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Cardinal James Francis Stafford, an emeritus-class American who is president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity at the Vatican; Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Vall, who had nothing to contribute, he regretted, because he was not present at any of the meetings that were the subject of the press conference; and genial Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, who got things rolling by describing his boss, John Paul II, as a man who is “turned on by children.”

So much for trying to help. That the good wordsmith appeared blissfully unaware of his incredibly unfortunate choice of words only added to the impression that the hierarchy was woefully out of touch with reality. Bishop Gregory nattered on about how we have to “put all this in the right perspective” by noticing what a great job many archdioceses have been doing. (If they are all doing such a great job, why was this meeting called? one wanted someone to ask.)

Only twenty-four hours earlier Gregory had held forth on the duty to “make sure the priesthood isn’t dominated by homosexuals,” one of the viler things ever said in public by anyone wearing a collar.

That this whole sorry mess could lead to nothing more than scurrilous innuendoes against gay men in the priesthood is stupefying.

Neither the celibacy rule, nor the ban on women in the priesthood, not the resignation of Cardinal Law, were so much as discussed at the Vatican meetings, by all accounts. Nevertheless, one of the new documents went out of its way to declare that “a link between celibacy and pedophilia cannot be scientifically maintained,” raising the question of why a declaration had to be made on a subject that was not an issue.

That the church leaders neglected to observe that there is no greater link between homosexuality and pedophilia than between heterosexuality and pedophilia spoke volumes about the politics of it all.

In other words, it’s all the fault of the gays (but at least they aren’t women). It’s the fault of American sexual permissiveness (i.e., women). It’s the fault of the media who have blown it all out of proportion because they hate the church anyway. Maybe we were at fault too, mused the clerics, but only in that we tried to take on too much by ourselves, we didn’t consult enough experts, etc. etc.

“There is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young,” said the pontiff.

Well and good, but he pointedly did not say, “There is no place in the Catholic hierarchy for people who shirk responsibility, who tolerate sexual harassment and abuse, who cover-up wrongdoing and shuffle perpetrators from one assignment to another.”

To do so would be to raise the question no one in the Vatican wants to answer: while Cardinal Law was supervising the careers of serial offenders, who was supervising Cardinal Law?

David Vest writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He is a poet and piano-player for the Pacific Northwest’s hottest blues band, The Cannonballs.

He can be reached at: davidvest@springmail.com

Visit his website at http://www.rebelangel.com

 

 

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, have just released a scorching new CD, Serve Me Right to Shuffle. His essay on Tammy Wynette is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on art, music and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

Weekend Edition
May 06, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Charles R. Larson
Being Gay in China, Circa 1987
David Yearsley
Skepticism, Irony, and Doubt: Williams on Bach
May 05, 2016
David L. Glotzer
Welcome to Fortified Europe: the Militarization of Europe’s Borders
Adam Szetela
Beyoncé’s “Formation” and the Boutique Activism of the Left
Bruce Lerro
Lost at Sea: Left Liberals Have No Party
Paul Cochrane
Hot Air in the Saudi Desert: a Kingdom in Descent?
Brian Terrell
My Visit to a Las Vegas Jail
Judith Deutsch
The Military’s “Securitization” of Climate Change
Phyllis Bennis
Kunduz Bombing: Proof the Pentagon Should Not Be Allowed to Investigate Itself for War Crimes
Chad Nelson
When Compassion is Terrorism: Animal Rights in a Post-911 World
Dan Arel
Making Sanders’ Dream a Reality Through Political Activism
Kent Paterson
Ten Years Later: Reflections on the Legacies of Immigrant Spring
Serge Halimi
Why Firefighters are Against Free Trade
Andrew Stewart
Green Bernie or Green Party Machine?
Binoy Kampmark
Yuri Gagarin in Space: the Politics of Cosmic Discovery
Hayes Rowan
This Naming of Things
May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s China-Bashing
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail