Tuesday, March 12, 2013

In these popeless times

So I see it’s the home stretch of election season for the pope. And in true Catholic Church form, the election involves a handful of old men in a room, sequestered from the modern world, who will blow smoke when it’s over.

I can’t wait to see which of the like-minded old men will lead the church into a new era of hostility to progress. Pope Benedict XVI’s hand-picked henchmen will do us proud, I’m sure, in picking someone who will also do nothing about abuse scandals and everything else that turned people off to the institution they once held dear.

Oh, but I’m sure the “Catholics Come Home” movement will be a rousing success. That’s right, blame the victims. It’s their fault they’re turned off by a once-grand institution that has essentially become a PAC against gays and abortion. And, not to put too fine a point on it, harbored child molesters. “It’s OK,” the church says to its converted skeptics. “We forgive you.”

Uh-huh.

I’m not about to go “home.” I’m a lapsed Catholic only in the sense that someone who wasn’t me said I was a Catholic child. And even then, I only occasionally went to Mass and never partook in any ritual apart from one communion wafer when I was 18 — and that was at a funeral where I was a pallbearer. I find all religion to be human construct, and while I hope there is something cool and redemptive in the afterlife, I know that I’ll never know as long as I’m alive. But I do know that I don’t belong in an organization so patriarchal and hypocritical that it literally evokes the image of an abusive father. So the future holder of “il papa” is, at best, a subject of curiosity for me.

But I genuinely feel sorry for real Catholics, the ones who chose their faith and continue to believe in its mystery despite the Vatican’s shortcomings and repellence to change. I know most don’t condone child molestation or second-class status for women and most are just fine with adapting to the realities of today’s world. They wouldn’t be averse to altering the worst aspects of dogma, as has happened many times before. It’s those people who deserve a pope worthy of what the Catholic Church is capable of being.

My greatest hope is that the Catholic leadership, with the pope it elects, proves me wrong about its politics. Then I’d be happy to say, “Welcome home.”

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