is revealing itself? His need to suppress dissonance and penalize
dissenters certainly fits a dictator's mold. So does the authoritarian
father-image he projects upon the world, although to his credit he
prefers Gucci slippers to leather jackboots and Panama hats to steel
helmets. But one should never judge a book by its cover.
The latest example is the pope's current investigation into the
orthodoxy of American nuns. It's no wonder. For many years, as
Cardinal Ratzinger, the Pope headed the Vatican office formerly called
the Holy Inquisition. You know: the guys with the torture racks and
chains, burnings at the stake, and other enhanced interrogation
techniques. They may have a new name, and they don't have the free
hand that they used to. But their mind-set is the same. It never
In 1965, there were over 180,000 nuns in the U.S., staffing schools
with their free labor in almost every parish. Today, there are fewer
than 60,000. Young women are voting with their feet. Back then, the
average age of a nun was late thirties or early forties; today it's
late sixties. So, stop beating on the ol' gals, Papa Ratzi!
And why is the Pope so sure he has rooted out all the pedophile
priests, after doing nothing about them for so long? They're a worse
scourge to the Church than brave, conscientious women who have devoted
their entire lives to God. Does the Pope not know to be religious is
to give your life so that the world is more just, more peaceful, more
One is amazed at hearing that the nuns are being told the bishops
are their moral and spiritual guides. Really! But they're the same
bishops who were protecting and hiding the villains, who were
molesting our children, just a few years ago. Until the dirt they
pushed under the rug was finally revealed, that is.
A few bishops have since been found guilty of pedophilia and
out-of-wedlock kids, while preaching sweet homilies and moral
certitudes from the pulpit. Moral and spiritual guides indeed! The
bishops could use some counseling themselves, and perhaps a few
sessions on eating disorder.
"No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that
created it," said Albert Einstein. "We must learn to see the world
Sadly, the organized and institutionalized forms of religion
commonly practiced in America today seem incapable of seeing the world
anew. Many church-goers have just enough religion to hate, but not
enough to love.
This has always been the human situation, ever since we evolved
from our tribal roots and respect for all Creation. And we began to
worship the god of private acquisition, where no limit is placed on
how much wealth one may possess. Justice Brandeis of the US Supreme
Court, a true legal mind as opposed to what we have today, warned that
we cannot have democracy and vast concentrations of wealth at the same
time. One or the other must go.
Unfortunately, it seems like the rich guys won. "Mammon is the
victor," as a biblical scholar might say. We don't adore golden calves
any longer. Instead we pay homage to mere humans, referred to as
'stars', 'experts', 'tycoons' and 'leaders'. Where is Moses when we
need him? And where is his wrathful fury?
Charles Rayner Kelly was a Jesuit for six years and he thanks his
lucky stars that he left.