The Third Third

From the mountaintop

I have spent the last five days “Out West,” quite literally in the middle of nowhere, (or at least as out of touch as to be beyond all AT&T cell phone and 3-G reception).  There I have spent hours in awe of the natural splendors our earth has given rise to -- the mountains, the mesas, the rock formations, the farmlands, even the multiplicity of simple grasses.  I let the vistas remind me there is a God; there must be in so much stunning beauty, so many spectacularly diverse and beyond-my-imagination palettes and views, mile after mile after mile.  It has been a cleansing and refreshing and humbling experience.  And what I was going to write about was how we might best use a new awareness of this natural extravagance which we call home to inspire a common respect for what we so mundanely call “the environment,” and, in turn, a commitment to new policies to facilitate enriching it, reversing those that, today, seem intent instead upon destroying it. Then I returned to modern civilization, i.e., my internet connection, and read the following: "The Vatican issued revisions to its internal laws on Thursday making it easier to discipline sex-abuser priests, but caused confusion by also stating that ordaining women as priests was as grave an offense as pedophilia." I read that first paragraph and literally gasped, and  I am still not breathing normally.  I re-read it repeatedly, looking for words I might have missed, typos that impugned the meaning, something, anything that suggested it could not be true that any human being living in this 21st century would say such a thing out loud, much less put it in print and then try to  justify it with church history, practices, and canon law. The Times reports that even many Catholics were “astonished,” and some “irritated” by the inclusion of the attempt to ordain women in a list of the “more grave delicts,” or offenses, which included pedophilia, as well as heresy, apostasy and schism.  And child pornography and sexual abuse of mentally disabled adults.   “Astonished” doesn’t begin to cover it, though I suppose it’s a start.  Irritated?  Shocked would be a better word, I think.  Appalled would be more like it.  Disgusted.  I would like to see my Catholic friends get up and do to the reigning hierarchy of the Catholic Church what their Church threatens to do to priests who abuse boys or accept women: abandon them, excommunicate them, de-frock them.  Move on, with the God of Love and Wonder (that natural beauty I was talking about earlier), and leave the sorry old men behind.  Talk about out of touch.  Let them masturbate; don’t let them reproduce any more egregiously inhumane, unjust proclamations or practices.  No church one would belong to would so degrade women.  So leave those guys in the Vatican with their precious beliefs; take your faith and run, my friends. And the rest of us?  Suffering in silence may no longer be an option.  I would love to see men and women of all  faiths condemn such blasphemy.  I wouldn’t consider that meddling in the internal affairs of a religion.  It’s actually not the failure and refusal to ordain women in the Catholic church that offends me (though it is one of the reasons I would never join it again); it is the lumping together of more enlightened priests, even more practical priests, who might wish to ordain women with the depraved, powerfully damaging ones who would sexually abuse children or the mentally disabled.   That is the unconscionable act, to me a heretical, destructive denial of God’s love for all -- men and women.  To live into the faith(s) to which we have been called, it seems we need to be better stewards both of our earth and of its people, all the people.  And I think it’s time to say so. I don't want to diminish the seriousness of my concern that any of us is subject to such edicts.  But I can't help but think in terms of two children's tales:  The Emperor's New Clothes and The King Puts On His Pants One Leg At A Time.  Like the innocent protagonists in these stories, we need to cease participation in the charade that gives Vatican leaders power over any of us.   We need to shout it from the mountaintops:  The Pope and his boys have made some really bad choices and decisions; they have shown themselves to be deeply flawed moral and religious leaders; and we don't have to -- and will not -- probably should not -- pay much attention to them any more.
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