27 May 2014

Splendid Gestures

What a splendid pair of Gestures by the Holy Father: praying at the Temple Wall ... and then going on to pray at the Wall of Separation, in such a way that the world's cameras picked up the graffiti written upon it. Absolutely masterly. I won't comment further because my favourite Catholic Theologian, S Paul of Tarsus, has already got in first (Ephesians 2:11-22), as he so often does.

Splendid, too, that the Holy Father has referred to the Jewish People as the 'Elder Brother'. This is theologically important and significant: it alludes of course to the Narrative of Esau and Jacob, in which God's Election rests with the Younger Brother. I wonder how long ago it was that a Roman Pontiff spoke in such laudably 'supersessionist' terms.

Splendid, too, that he has invited victims of clerical abuse to join him at the Lord's Table. Such gestures are immensely useful; while he is still enjoying something of a Media honeymoon, it is right that the Pope should exploit it ... most of the worthy hacks will, of course, be unaware that his two immediate predecessors also met with victims and so they will see this latest gesture as another wonderful 'Franciscan First'. Fair enough, if their ignorance and the Pope's gesture combine to do the Church's image some good.

Splendid, too, that he should put clerical abuse and Satanic sacrilege on the same level.

However, sooner or later it may be necessary for the Holy Father to move beyond gestures. If there is any action which the Church should be taking with regard to the vile problem of clerical paederasty, then she should put a hold on further gestures and take such necessary actions; even, if necessary, ruthlessly. If, on the other hand, she has done everything (and more) that can be done, then she should say so robustly and call the bluff of her enemies by (1) asking what else she can do; and (2) raising the question of other organisations with a much poorer record than her own. Perhaps, too, she should address a hypothesised Elephant In The Room: the question of an alleged possible relationship between paiderasteia, epheberasteia, and some varieties of the homosexual orientation. This is not a question on which I have either views or even the competence to entertain views; but the Church could set up a group of academics with the competent skills, to work on the subject, for the benefit of humankind in general. Even if, as is likely, they were unable to present a united report, the exposition, with supporting evidence, of different positions, would be immensely valuable. It is generally useful to enquire about the roots of problems rather endlessly to get excited about symptoms.

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