February 27, 2013

Another Passing - This time he shall not be missed

I am moved by the resignation of the Pope. There are two things that move me in his resignation, a personal end for me as this will be the last Pope in my lifetime that I've actually met in person, and the second thing that moves me is how terribly this Pope guided his flock, not as a Pope, but as an instrument of peace bringer (Pontiff means "Bridge Builder" - this Pope burned bridges).

I met the Pope, then Cardinal Ratzinger in 1992 at the Pontificia Università Gregoriana in Rome Italy whilst he was the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was offering a lecture series at the University (for the life of me I can't remember the lecture - but it was in Italian and my Italian is TERRIBLE). One day following the lecture I encountered Cardinal Ratzinger at a cafe ordering a cappuccino. I introduced myself as a seminary student and a student at the Gregorian. He nodded and told me it was nice to meet me. He, in Italiano, asked, "Americano?" I nodded again, he turned his back to me and carried on his way.

I could interrupt my interaction with him on many levels, but I attended his mass once at St. Peter's Basilica, and found his proclamations of mass, the faith, the gospel, lifeless, inauthentic and boring. He was if nothing else, a scholar, a politician, a "player" in the papacy. I never experienced him as inspirational, faith leader, or as kind. (See my blog about my experience with John Paul II at http://batmannewyork.blogspot.com/2005/04/papal-goodbye.html).

My second feeling of being moved comes from the legacy that he and so many of his "brothers" failed in their mission as protectors of the innocent, proclaimers of faith. The scandal that has and continues to rock the Catholic Church regarding pedophilia and its priests will scar this organization for a long time, perhaps longer than most of our life times. The next sentence I feel compelled to write pains me, but believe it is necessary as I know it is a question so many wonder about, but I never was involved with any scandal in the church, sexual or otherwise. I was a good priest. My leaving of the priesthood was based in my own faith (lack thereof) and a realization that if I had continued to live life as a priest in an inauthentic manner, I would find myself likely a drunk or hanging from the ceiling with a rope. I for a long time wouldn't tell people I was a priest because the association for most people is that a former priest must have been involved with some sexual or predatory scandal. I was not. I left the priesthood because I could not continue to lie to myself or to those who viewed me as their spiritual guide that I believed or supported the faith tenants of the Catholic Church.

The Pope, has failed his ministry, he has failed his people, he has failed the world. He continued to allow predatory priests operate and protected those predators over the safety of the children and members of his flock. In a sense, as a their shepherd, the Pope dressed the predatory priest, the wolves, in sheepskin and set them against his flock himself. Not only this but his legacy against the rights of woman, against those who are gay, lesbian, transgendered, bi-sexual is long and noted.

I am not fearful of the next pope, for I expect the legacy of the papacy to continue for sometime to be dark. The deck is, as it were, stacked. The Church is an antiquated and failing organization that does not serve the most base servitude actions towards mankind, which it to proclaim love, life and forgiveness. Rather the Church serves as an organization that points its fingers at the wrongs in the world exclaiming, "Your sins bring suffering to mankind." All the while the Church covers its own failings with the white garments of its priests, stepping on the heads of children and binding the arms of women.

There are Catholic individuals who are faith filled, who bring their own beliefs to life, live that life in an authentic manner that is reflective of the gospel teachings of the man the world knows as Jesus and who some believe is a messiah. I love those Catholics dearly. I respect them and their good work. For theyy feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, give hope to the hopeless. For them I am sad, for they must continue to be a part of an organization that has a legacy of hate, evil, predatory leaders who are the "Vampires" of youth, taking away the life of so many young men and women and leaving their dead dry corpses for the rest of the church and the those affected directly to mourn over. I grew up in this faith, and as a child, and even as a young man I believed in the Church. But seeing the legacy of hate, hypocrisy and genuine evil I fell out of faith. I grew into my own belief system, and have never been happier.

I hope the leaders of this organization do allow themselves inward reflection and do allow themselves to review their own lives and hopefully find the strength to exclaim, "no more, we shall not abide this darkness in our hearts." This is Lent for the Catholic Church, a time of prayer and fasting. A return to a time in life of longing, looking to be fulfilled in a way that is not of this world but of another. As a myth, the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus is one of the most compelling. It is a story of hope, loss of hope, mourning, and finally discovery and joy. How can one not be moved by such a story? It is there I hope the leaders of the Church find their voice. They must bury their sins, turn their faces towards the light (the truth), and confess their misgivings and sins to the world. It is only then, when they are open, reveal the truth to their flock, that they can hope to truly be authentic. To truly return to their ministry.

Goodbye Pope Benedict, you shall not be missed.
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