130311-papal-conclave

  • The Vienna Boys’ Choir was rather thrilled at the exclusion…

With the retirement of Pope Benedict, following the example of the Emperor Diocletian and going off to tend a vegetable garden, the Catholic Church is at a crossroads again–namely, how to look like they’re dealing with the problem of priestly and episcopal pederasty while selecting in the conclave of the College of Cardinals a colleague who tacitly condoned the problem by doing nothing about it. One thing for certain–he will be from the conservative wing of the Church in order to complete the return of Catholicism to the 19th century after Vatican II dragged it, protesting and screaming, into the 20th century. Ahhh, decisions, decisions. God forbid we have another Pope like John XXIII who’d actually done things like save Jews in the Holocaust, visit a prison on the 2nd day of his Papacy, and had a predilection for sneaking out of the Vatican to talk to people and find out what they thought.

Father Roncalli (John’s real name) was no saint–and won’t be if the Church has anything to say about it. But he was probably the closest pope to one in the last few centuries. His stance to pederasty was pretty clear–and at the same time muddled. On the one hand, he expressly taught that those seminarians who showed a tendency to homosexuality and pederasty were to be barred from ordination. That was back in 1961 and the world’s attitude about homosexuality has been thoroughly revised. Given the misunderstanding of the time, the connection between the two is understandable since the greater bulk of priestly crimes of this type have been with boys rather than girls.

On the other hand, there is a document from 1962 issued under Pope John’s seal that instructs that the investigation of cases involving “‘worst crime’, described as an obscene act perpetrated by a cleric with ‘youths of either sex or with brute animals (bestiality)’” to be dealt with in absolute secrecy. While the penalties for priests involve suspension from celebration of the sacraments through defrocking, (which are not mentioned in the news article but can be found in the linked pdf) nonetheless, there you have the paradox in a nutshell. The horrible nature of the crime is admitted, yet the door is opened to the cover-ups that have exploded in the last 20 years.

My bet is that if John XXIII knew how his instructions would be used to justify the cover-ups, he would have made sure that the cover-up of crimes was dealt with with equal severity. At least, one hopes.

PS: I hate Daylight Saving Time.

Greg Uchrin is a satirist, cartoonist and professional cynic in Alexandria VA. This diary is cross-posted to his blog Intravenous Caffeine, the post-Bush era successor to HAIL DUBYUS.