Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pope Bless Us...Pope Bless Us Everyone

Pope Benedict is one hell of a guy. He recently expressed embarrassment over the Catholic sex scandal that seemed quite prolific a few years ago. He also vowed that pedophiles would not be allowed to join the clergy.

So does that mean they were allowed to join before?

That’s all fine and dandy but the fact remains that the church conspired to sweep the problem under the rug. Families were coerced into secrecy and repeat offenders were transferred to other positions within the church. Furthermore, Catholic officials stonewalled legal investigations by playing the separation of church and state card. How does Benedict feel about that?

I haven’t read anything about the Vatican launching an investigation into the scandal and holding people accountable and Benedict hasn’t explained how he plans to keep pedophiles out. I guess you could roll through a few slides of naked boys during the third interview and see if the prospective priest pitches a tent. Chances are most bishops probably have a stash of porn right out of the NAMBLA catalogue.

The reality is that you can’t stop pedophiles. They’re sneaky which is why they gravitate toward positions of trust like priests, teachers, scout leaders and the US House of Representatives. The only thing you can do is take their opportunities to pray/prey on children. That’s hard to do for the Catholic Church seeing as how they think God’s got it all under control.

Of course the only reason this is even an issue is because Pope Benedict is visiting the US. Now why is it he gets to have dinner at the White House and bend the President’s ear while other religious fundamentalists are characterized as terrorists?

Catholicism is funny. Prayers are really chants, many of which are mumbled in Latin. Services are orchestrated events where people stand, sit and kneel according to a strict routine practiced over years and years. You can’t walk around a Catholic Church without running into a collection box for one thing or another. I’ve even seen churches that have different price points for various candles. A little helpful hint: the big candles have more praying power.

Catholics don’t do a whole lot of bible thumping which makes them much easier to get along with than your average evangelical Christian who thinks they’ll get better seats in heaven if they can convert you but Catholics do tend to exude a sense of arrogance about their faith. They just don’t know why. The church starts in with religious programming so early that Catholics can’t express any point at which they made a choice to believe. It’s not faith, it’s ritual. Even the E & C Catholics fall victim to that weird spiritual signal that grows stronger around the major holidays. Everybody practices lent, gets ashes smeared on their foreheads and goes to midnight mass even though they would set foot in a church any other day out of the year.

Catholics will even throw the term “cult” around to describe other religions. They’ll mock the snake-handling hillbillies of Eastern Kentucky, and dismiss the practice of speaking in tongues as nonsense even though they’ll sing an entire hymn in an ancient language they don’t even understand.

Then you have the Pope. One day he’s just a guy who happens to be a Cardinal, then some smoke belches out of a pipe in Rome and suddenly he’s better than everybody else. Catholics practically worship the guy which seems to be a bit of a violation of the 10 commandments. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Catholics also have saints which are supposedly people who are in heaven designated to perform specific miraculous functions. Saint Christopher is the patron saint of travelers so you pray to him that those fumes you’ve been driving on for the last ten minutes hold out to the next gas station. Saint Peter can help you with your erection; St. Paul is the patron saint of people who are overshadowed by their more popular twin; St. Peter Paul comes with or without almonds. One of the Saints Mary is the blessed virgin and the other is a blessed whore.

It’s all very confusing and more than a little frightening. Catholics even practice a gruesome ritual of eating the body of Christ and washing it down with his blood. And we think Wiccans are weird. Wiccans don’t eat Jesus, promote NAZIs to the highest rank in their organization or harbor pedophiles. Yet every time the grand Pooh-Bah of Catholicism comes to town in his wacky little bubble-mobile everybody lines up to pay their respects.