4 April 2018

The Threefold Interface between Rigidity, Hypocrisy, and Absurdity

"About rigidity and worldliness, it was some time ago that an elderly monsignor of the curia came to me, who works, a normal man, a good man, in love with Jesus - and he told me that he had gone to buy a couple of shirts at Euroclero and saw a young fellow - he thinks he had not more than 25 years, or a young priest or about to become a priest - before the mirror, with a cape, large, wide, velvet with a silver chain. He then took the Saturno, he put it on and looked himself over. A rigid and wordly one. And that priest - he is wise that monsignor, very wise ... etc.."

The Speaker condemns someone he has never met, and does so on the say-so of a third party. One is reminded of the sacking of some workers in the CDF who were reportedly condemned instantly, without any consultation with the Prefect of that dicastery, on a report that those concerned had been heard speaking critically about the leniency accorded to clergy convicted of child abuse. The Speaker had no compunction about swallowing, hook, line and sinker, without any due process, those delated to him, as long as the delation fitted neatly into his own prejudices. This impatience with due process is the characteristic of the tyrant in every age. In his own great wisdom, the Mighty Man is competent to discern the guilt of those delated to him without the tedium of making enquiries about such vulgar details as evidence.

Indeed, recent events in the 'Barros' case reveal that the Speaker did not look at or cannot now remember looking at an eight-page letter containing details of sexual abuse and handed to him by a Cardinal.

The Speaker appears to have been blithely unaware, when talking to his curial chum, of the risk that, given his own position, there will be sycophants around, anxious to secure or enhance their own positions by telling him the sort of stories he likes hearing. And, if you do tell him the sort of tales he wants to hear, then, clearly, you are normal, good, wise ... er ... "very wise".

The Speaker apparently has ample leisure to listen to delatores who gossip about their shopping and pander to his prejudices, as well as to chatter incessantly to scalfaris, although his door is shut to curial cardinals.

The delator was buying shirts. Presumably, even if he never wears a cassock, he does wear trousers to the South of his shirts. Personally, I am the shabbiest priest in England, but, buying shirts and trousers, I either look them over in the mirror in the shop or as soon as I get home, so that if there is something amiss, I can take them back for a refund. Does the delator never do that? When the Speaker himself was being fitted up with white cassocks in the Room of Tears next to the Sixtine Chapel, is he absolutely sure that he resisted Mr Gammarelli's invitation to consider himself in the mirror?

Do they sell real silver chains on their cloaks at Euroclero? Perhaps some reader resident in Rome could check that. Before I was ordained to the Diaconate in 1967, I purchased a cloak from the clerical tailor who came from Wolverhampton to Staggers; the clasp was, I concede, of pleasantly silvery appearance but is of undoubtedly base metal. I may, conceivably, have contemplated myself in a mirror: I can't now remember. In the last 50 years I have worn that cloak when stumbling in front of coffins across uneven hillside cemeteries in the pouring rain; when taking the Blessed Sacrament to elderly villagers through winter weather; when commemorating the departed of two World Wars at village War Memorials on cold Sundays in November. Why the h**l should I feel guilty? I do not know that I have ever noticed photographs of the Speaker himself standing unprotected in pouring rain, humble though he is. And, had he ever done so, there would undoubtedly have been photographers there to record and to give worldwide publicity to his humility.

Indeed, why does the Speaker go around all the time in a white cassock? His face is well known; he does not, like an ordinary priest or even bishop, need a 'uniform' to identify himself to people. Indeed, a white cassock must, because white shows the dirt, need dry-cleaning a lot more often that cassocks in most other colours ... to the detriment of vital Environmental resources. Bishops, less showy men, nowadays often wear black, much the same as their clergy. The cassocks, incidentally, visible in photographs of the Speaker show no obvious signs of wear and of mending. I am in only the second cassock of my clerical career (I was deaconed in 1967): I wonder if the Speaker could say as much.

But ... why does he need to wear a cassock at all? What is wrong with doing what the Speaker has recommended to other clergy: wearing shorts and a tea-shirt so that the Youff can admire his tatoos?

Could it just possibly, just conceivably, be something to do with status and with other rigid wordly considerations?


Ana Milan said...

Spot on Father, spot on!

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

The Emperor has quality clothes.

ABS really enjoyed this Father, God Bless you for your courage.

Ignatius, Cornwall said...

Aaaaahh, 'twas ever often thus: the prideful hypocrisy of the teachers of humility. It is unfortunate that the misconceived cult of Papolatory is focussed on the inflation of the person in the office, rather than that of the office itself--and its true limits. As he is, as a fallen being, not perfect, the person in high office is often blind to the fault of authoritative pride. This may be the fault of the current Pontiff.

Dorota Mosiewicz-Patalas said...

In this case, I am quite sure he would prefer the casual T-shirt and shorts ensemble. From the first day he rejected as much pomp and ceremony as they let him. He despises everything that sets a human being apart from the lowest possible common denominator. It is elitist, you see. Having the choice between ugliness and beauty, he will choose ugliness every time.

Banshee said...

I've always thought that saturnos looked very practical. You're in Italy, so you get a lot more sun than you want. Sunglasses don't really do the job if you're outside for very long. Sunburn on the head is painful, and melanomas on the face are dangerous. So you have a light hat with a broadish brim. Simple.

Only a modern person who spends all day within walls and in the A/C would think that a hat was "unnecessary."

Arthur Gallagher said...

The gossiping judgmental demagoguery has worn itself quite thin at this point. I crave silence from certain quarters.

M. Prodigal said...

Oh Father, your sarcasm is pointed today!

Liam Ronan said...

Dear Father,

You cautiously wrote :"Why the h**l should I feel guilty?" You needn't have resorted to asterisks. That 'el' of a place doesn't exist anymore, you know.

Ceile De said...

No ‘el, No ‘el, the Angels did say....

Unknown said...

Dear Fr. Hunwicke,
You express with much restraint what so many Catholics feel about the behaviour of the Speaker. In several places in your article you could certainly have said substantially very much more, but you mercifully stopped short.
I don't know if the writer of the comment that "the gossiping judgmental demagoguery has worn itself quite thin at this point", is being critical of your article or about the behaviour and pronouncements of the Speaker. If he is in fact being critical of you then perhaps he has not followed closely the pronouncements of the Speaker, many of which have been assembled in "The Pope Francis Little Book of Insults". https://www.facebook.com/Pope-Francis-Little-Book-of-Insults
Claude Newbury

RichardT said...

So the young priest is "a rigid and wordly one" whilst the elderly monsignor is "a normal man, a good man, in love with Jesus" and "very wise".

But "who am I to judge"?

RichardT said...

Dorota Mosiewicz-Patalas said...
"He despises everything that sets a human being apart from the lowest possible common denominator"

I don't think it is as simple as that. There is a class of modern elite who despise symbols that set them apart, but still want everyone to know that they are superior and to treat them with an ostentatious respect that they can humbly brush aside.

Tony Blair is probably the best known early example of this, but other good British examples are the Speaker John Bercow and before him the Lord Chancellor Irvine (refusing to wear the robes of office yet still insisting on being treated with great deference).

To me this is not humility but an even greater arrogance. The traditional clothing set apart the wearer and meant that deference was paid to the role, the office. This modern attitude seems to expect deference to be paid to the individual.

uberto said...

Since then, "rigid and worldly" has become a term of appreciation and praise, such as "that chasuble is reeeally rigid!"