Well, now it’s gone from tragedy to deja vuish farce. Last October, when the Anglican church was being roiled and divided over the question of ordination of gays and women, Pope Benedict IVI, in yet another tin-eared move, offered “dissatisfied Anglicans . . . fast-track conversion to Roman Catholicism.” Reports the New York Times, “ . . the pope, intervening in a crisis over gay rights and women’s rights in the Anglican Communion, announced that a special section of the Catholic Church would be established to allow former Anglicans to convert to Catholicism while keeping some of the their traditions and services, and even being led by former Anglican bishops, some of them married.” In other words, “Hey, unhappy with your church? C’mon over to us. We’ll build you this little room over her and you can play at being catholic, without any worry about those scary gay and women priests. ”
Naturally, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, was NOT amused by the pope’s attempt at soul-poaching.
And, turn about being fair play, the Most Reverend Williams, in a recent BBC radio interview, “described the abuse scandal as a ‘colossal trauma’ for Ireland in particular,” and noted, “I was speaking to an Irish friend recently who said that it’s quite difficult in some parts of Ireland to go down the street wearing a clerical collar now.” As well observing, “And an institution so deeply bound into the life of a society suddenly becoming, suddenly losing all credibility – that’s not just a problem for the church, it’s a problem for everybody in Ireland.”
Well, THAT ticked off both Irish Catholics and the Anglican Churches in Ireland, so the Most Reverend quickly apologized, both groups ignoring James Joyce’s too apt description of Ireland being both “priest ridden” and a “sow who eats her own farrow.” (Joyce, now gleefully and proudly proclaimed by the Irish, was not happy with his homeland nor it with him, and so he spent the bulk of his life in Switzerland.)
Then, into this sad, terrible affair, more tin ears as various Catholic officials started playing the victim card, claiming the church was being picked on by the media and alluding to the church being akin to the Jews in being persecuted.
Really? Playing the victim card from the people who brought you . . . THE SPANISH INQUISITION? (Cue Monty Python music.)
Then, more buried secrets popped up, this from Martin Kimani from The Guardian (U.K.) reported in the April 9 The Week, asking where is the Pope’s apology for “the horrific perversion of the Catholic Church in Rwanda, where priests actually took part in genocide. Rwandan priests had stoked racial hatred between rival groups for decades. It was a Rwandan archbishop who first launched the racists Hutu Power movement in the 1950s, as ‘a strategy to maintain the church’s powerful political position’ by appealing to the majority Hutus. Then in 1994, when machete-wielding Hutu hordes were killing hundreds of thousands of Tutsis, priests egged them on. Terrified families took refuge in Catholic churches, only to be hacked to death inside. Sometimes priests and nuns even ‘led the slaughter.’ Yet many of the nuns and priests accused of genocide ‘enjoyed refuge in Catholic churches in Europe while on the run from prosecutors.’”
Mr. Kimani notes with sarcasm and sorrow that apparently the Vatican “can’t afford to ignore the sexual abuse of white Europen parishioners. But ‘it can let those African bodies remain buried, dehumanized, and unexamined.’”
All of which means that a whole lot of somebodies have a lot of ‘splaining to do. And it’s no good playing the victim or pretending that all of this is just the result of a few bad apples. What’s becoming clear is there’s a major system failure here and unless that’s addressed in a serious way, these horror stories will simply keep on repeating themselves because authoritarian systems (personal, social, political, or religious) without strong checks, balances and powerful and effective feed-back mechanisms, are always prone to wretched excess.
It’s simply the nature of authoritarian systems since they’re being run by authoritarian fallible human beings. And the authoritarian nature is, well, the authoritarian nature. And when we forget that, when we turn our children over, or turn our own power and souls over to "other people," we do so at our own peril.