Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Religious Hall of Shame...

Normally, I'm pretty happy being a Catholic. Of course, like every human being, I've had my crises of faith. But generally, the ability to believe in a deity who is "somewhere out there" and is watching over us humans (and often shaking Her head, I'm sure) is somewhat comforting. The trouble is when humans get involved in the whole idea of religion. Considering the gospels, who decided there should only be four? And why were those four written by men? Jesus did have female followers. Who says priests should only be men? One of the wisest preachers I knew was a woman, and it was she who changed my own narrow vision of what a "pastor" is. And I don't care what I was taught; I've come to believe that Mary Magdalene was NOT the prostitute she was made out to be. I'm not sure what she was, but I have come, in my maturity, to believe that she may have been painted with the wrong brush, for the sake of expediency and a good story. Fast forward many centuries, and we have the current issues facing the Catholic Church. The pedophile scandal which has people confusing sexual predators for gay men - guess what, folks, they are NOT the same thing. Think about it and look it up or ask someone. Use the brain God gave you. It won't hurt, I promise. Our Church lied, shuffled offenders around and did what it does best sometimes: it stalled, hoping that the problem would "go away." Hey, your Holiness: Since that Vatican II thing, parishioners aren't just dumb pew-jockeys. We are involved. And we know how to be activists. And we will. You lied to us; you lied to the world. And you want us to just forgive and "forget" what happened. Oh, and pay the legal bills, too. Not gonna happen. You've lost a chunk of my generation, and you have potentially lost the generation my kids inhabit, too. They see past the collars and see flawed humans. And they wonder why we in my generation let this fester. Most recently, there's Fr. Mike Pfleger in Chicago. Being a priest is a 24/7 proposition. You are never NOT a priest, even if the collar is off. And when the collar is ON - well, you really need to watch your Ps and Qs. And Fr. Pfleger most certainly did not watch anything. He didn't heed that voice in that deep part of the brain that says, "Whoa, there, Pilgrim! Watch what's coming out of your mouth." And Cardinal George certainly didn't help with that milque-toast tap on the wrists. Fr. Pfleger has embarassed many Catholics. He's embarassed many Christians. He did the usual "pseudo-apology" thing but it's too little, too late. And again, Cardinal George, where's the starch in YOUR collar? I don't think Pfleger needs to be kicked out. I think he needs to be re-assigned. He's been at St. Sabina's for what? A couple of decades? Yes, he's done fine things. But you know what happens when you've been the "face" of the organization for a long time? You tend to get complacent. You forget the vows you made, and you "become" the organization. Sometimes, that works. This time, it didn't. He not only embarassed Catholics, he embarassed his own parish. Even though there are people who stood up for his right to speak, he violated a basic principle: Don't do anything that you wouldn't like to see on YouTube the next day. Now, he's upset at YouTube. Fr. Pfleger, please look in a mirror. THAT is the person you should be mad at. You let theatrics and histrionics get the better of logic and theology. You had no right to use a pulpit - any pulpit - to say what you said. There has historically been a separation between church and state, and for good reason. You may very well have endangered Trinity's tax exempt status, at the least. At the most, you've given one more negative impression of a church which has done quite a bit for its community. There are people out there shaking their heads saying, "Just what DOES go on at that church? Are they all whack-jobs?" Probably not. But they sure know how to put 'em on the pulpit. Fr. Pfleger needs to be reassigned to a post where he can contemplate his actions and his future. Out of the spotlight. For a while. Maybe then, he could be reassigned to another parish, and not as the guy in charge. A large dose of crow wouldn't kill him. It may make him stronger and potentially temper his "speak before you think" habit. He's not a bad man. He's just started to believe his own PR. And when that happens, nothing good usually comes of it.

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