Wednesday, April 20, 2005

"Be lamps unto yourselves"

That was my response to this heartfelt diary on Kos.

I quote:

Why did so many jump all over the Hitler Youth piece of the new pope's biography, when there are plenty of opinions and actions in the last 20 years or so by Cardinal Ratzinger to be upset over from a liberal perspective? There are folks that aren't familiar with the ins and outs of Catholic theology, but are extremely suspicious of, and sensitive to, anything that smacks of fascism. And this was an easy piece to latch onto, one that appeared to confirm the worst fears of feminists, gays, etc.

No, it wasn't smart. Those who commented that this will certainly be fodder for the folks at LGF to caricature us are correct. But those who reacted this way were reacting from the heart, not the brain. If they were reacting from the brain, they certainly would have said, as others did, that this is no way to bring the Catholic vote back into the Democratic party.

It also was said by some that this was prejudice against the Roman Catholic Church. I do not agree. The posts did not say that Catholics as a whole are idiots, supporters of child molestation, minions of Satan, etc. This was outrage at today's specific act of the college of cardinals in the selection of this particular individual to be pope.

So why the storm and fury over this one individual? Well, let me put it to you this way. In the case of my wife and myself, no other single individual had more to do with why I am no longer a Catholic. I suspect that this is true for the vast majority of ex-Catholics that posted, even if they aren't fully aware of the ongoing detailed role of Cardinal Ratzinger in his official capacities that made them feel unwelcome in the only religious home many of them had ever known...

Of deep pain. Of anguish. Of the kind of pain we all felt on the day after the election. The kind of pain you might feel if you left an abusive, cheating husband, and he was then elected to public office, even though his abusiveness and cheating were well documented in the local press.

It ripped open all the old wounds. It felt as if the Church were saying "good riddance to you!"

The fact that this reader was lucky enough to have lived through the effects of John XXIII and Paul VI, like myself, perhaps set his expections a bit higher for the Roman Catholic Church than is deserved.

Regardless, (and whether or not Ratzinger lives up to his past as pope remains to be seen) the issue -at least for this Buddhist ex-Catholic- isn't really anything to do with Benedict XVI, but myself. Look, folks, if aliens came to visit earth, and they were introduced to Ratzinger et al., with their ways , their celibacy, and their pedophilia scandals, and if those aliens were told that these guys represented the supremum bonum of morality on this earth, if aliens laughed, they would1. Why be so attached to Joseph Ratzinger's pretensions to authority? It's your life, after all. Live it by doing your best.

1. In one of the first teishos I heard from Bonnie Myotai Treace, she said something to the effect of, "Why would anyone in New York come to hear a bald-headed American woman dressed up in the costume of a 13th century Japanese monk?"


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