Gnomicon 117

If you have not already done so, you may wish to read the
Introduction to Gnomica.

Gnomicon  117
Monday 3 September 2012

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We should always be disposed to believe that
that which appears white is really black,
if the hierarchy of the Church so decides.

St. Ignatius Loyola (1491 – 31 July 1556)

 [WARNING: I do not apologize for voicing some personal opinions below but do note that if you are likely to be offended by criticism of religious institutions and in particular of the Church, please DO NOT continue reading.  And do believe me when I aver with sincerity that it is definitely neither my desire nor my intent to offend anyone.  But … my blog, my opinions! Thus fully forewarned, if you wish, proceed at your own risk. Thank you.]

This epigraph by St. Ignatius, the Basque founder of the Jesuits, perhaps throws some dim explanatory light on a mindset relevant to a possible (?) understanding of a current puzzlement.

Who has not read the ever unfolding tales of horror involving pederasty among the priesthood in America and other countries as well?  As for what these pious adults, holy men of God, are on record as having done to trusting children, there is surely an overweening irony to their deep perversion of the New Testament [King James version] injunction (Luke 18:16), Ἄφετε τà παιδíα ἔρχεσθαι πρóς με Aphete ta paidia erkhesthai pros me [“Suffer little children to come unto me.”].  (The same language is used at Matthew 19:14.)  In the contemporary context of these hideous goings-on in the Church this line takes on a chilling tone of beyond-the-grotesque – even more so, in fact, when one considers that the plural (!) imperative Ἄφετε Aphete translated in the King James version as ‘Suffer’ carries in the original Greek an overtone of ‘hand over’.  Modern translations (e.g., New International [1984], English Standard [2001], International Standard [2008], etc.) offer the neutered gloss, ‘let’.

But, as with Watergate, it isn’t even the horror of the actual deeds – utterly appalling as they are – that repel so much as the absolutely unconscionable cover-up by the Church hierarchy, to my mind most repugnantly exemplified by the papal transfer of Boston’s Harvard-educated cardinal Law (who clearly knew what was going on and in an apparently common way of dealing with these predators simply sent them off to some other diocese – a kind of cavalier out-of-sight out-of-mind means for not dealing with known crimes horrendously committed by agents of the Church) to a safe sinecure in the Vatican far beyond the reach of the local American authorities.

The financial hit in payouts on the proliferating legal actions brought against the church has been considerable, and that aspect of the whole mess – along with some of the other sleazy financial operations of the Church — is covered in great detail in a recent (18 August 2012, pages 19-24) article in The Economist, ‘Earthly Concerns’.  In connection with all the suits, in my thinking a side-matter as it were is the question of how many despicable individuals, who never were in any way harmed by the numerous conscientious and honorable priests now dead and hence open to accusations that can be neither proved nor disproved but swept up in the general spirit of a vindictive backlash, have stepped up to the bottomless trough on this gravy train to huge settlements.

Let’s come back, finally, to the ethically uplifting St. Ignatius.

If this revered saint urged the faithful to suspend their God-given intellects in the interest of maintaining intact the absurdly fallible doctrine of papal infallibility and believe that black is white just because some human in Rome says it’s so, it’s not too difficult for me to extrapolate to both actions and justifications of the kinds that still parade across the daily headlines, as, for example, in the recent case of the 22 June conviction of Msgr. William J. Lynn of Philadelphia, and the incomprehensible and outrageous comments (all his subsequent back-pedaling apologies to the contrary) of a most puzzling priest, one Benedict Groeschel, who claims that it was actually the pederasts who were seduced by the children!

Perhaps — if we are to believe as St. Ignatius does — if a papal bull were issued to that effect, that too will ex cathedra become true – and, in accordance with religious doctrine, the sinful seductive children will be severely punished in Hell.

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