Monday, September 18, 2006

Holy Inquisition, Robin

Holy Inquisition, Ratzi, what were you thinking!

I thought you had some savvies. My Lord, what a blooper! To tell all the world that Muslims were prone to violence! Boy, I’ll bet you’ve lost some sleep over that little slip of the tongue.

Hope you at least got a chuckle over the fact that some were so incensed that you should suggest some Muslims could get violent that they took to burning the churches of your oldest rivals, the Greek Orthodox brothers. (Nobody’s chuckling over the killing of Sister Leonella.)

You represent so much that is medieval. You’re patriarchal, arrogant, anti-modern. Some of your party line stances (the notion of infallibility, reduction of all sex to reproduction) are silly; others (your tendency to excommunicate the most compassionate and creative of your priests) stupid and self-destructive; still others (the assertion that there is something wrong with homosexuality) stunning in its irrational hurtfulness. And your practice of circling the wagons to protect child abusers rather than the abused makes a mockery of your claim to be a Christian organization. You’re really quite a piece of work, Mr. R. There is much in your ways to throw people into the camp of anybody who wants to have a whack at you.

This time, though, there is irony in the fact that you should now be twisting in the wind for forgetting you’re no longer an academic but a politician. It makes you human somehow, this fallibility which we are all subject to. I’m fighting off a feeling of considerable sympathy for your plight. I know you didn’t mean to say that Muslims are bad folk. You’ve eaten crow over the Church’s long history of anti-Semitism; I know you want to look for the good in Muslims as well.

But let me suggest something. If you’re going to make history by being the very first pope to say he’s sorry for stepping on his tongue, could you give some thought to what a real apology looks like?

Your spokesman, Cardinal Bertone, tells us that Your Holiness “sincerely regrets that certain passages of his address could have sounded offensive to the sensitivities of the Muslim faithful.”

Honey, that ain’t no apology.

I thought the Japanese couldn’t be beat for issuing apologies which are not apologies, but man, you could give them some lessons. “Could have sounded offensive!!!” Are you on drugs? That’s right up there with “Things have not necessarily worked out to our mutual satisfaction” – my favorite Japanese apology of recent times.

No, dear. An apology goes like this. “I made a mistake. I did something wrong, and I can see that now. I wish I hadn’t done it. I will try not to make that mistake again.” You know what I mean. It’s what you guys with your confessional booths call contrition.

“I’m sorry you took it the wrong way,” like “I’m sorry you’re such a jerk” is not an apology. Admitting to the world you got caught with your cassock down is not an apology.

You know what I would do if I were you and I had fallen into the trap of forgetting how to be diplomatic for a moment? I’d say something like this:

“Look, fellahs. You Muslims, like us Christians and those Jews, have your good guys and your horse’s asses. Some of you, like some of us, do more than talk the talk of Jewish justice, Christian love and Islamic peace. You walk the walk as well. And some of you don’t. My mistake was to quote somebody who confused Islam with the Islamists who pervert it, the folk who misread the Koran and run out and kill and maim. I should never have implied that represents true Islam. After all, our Scriptures are full of suggestions that God wanted us to slay our enemies the Philistines (i.e., you guys), so I should not have been so quick to throw stones. Forgive me for focusing on the ass of the elephant instead of the head. That was stupid of me. Let me say here and now I think it’s a major world tragedy that those of us who love God are so far apart and that we don’t work harder together to solve the problems of war, poverty and injustice. Accept my apology. And please give me a chance to show you I meant no harm. Give me a chance to make up for my insensitivity.”

That would be an apology.

But you could never do that, could you. You are a prisoner of Vatican cake-and-eat-it-too power-think. You want to suggest you made an apology but not actually deliver one. That way your dignity and authority are not threatened and you can make those you offended look like ungrateful wretches for continuing to be pissed off.


Just when I was beginning to soften and develop a touch of sympathy for you and that Neanderthal institution of yours.

Everybody back to your seats. False alarm.

September 18, 2006

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