Sunday, February 3, 2013
There are three things on my mind this morning. One is the Super Bowl. I hate football and have no interest in beast-like men who earn millions of dollars smashing into each other so hard that a good percentage of them get dementia before their time, although I did enjoy the Volkswagon commercial that Angella posted on her blog.
The second thing is the headlines in The Los Angeles Times and probably a gazillion other papers, recounting the misdeeds (that everyone knew about) of Cardinal Mahoney, the blood-curdling details of his craven cover-up of pedophile priests under his watch. I went on the site bishop-accountibility-org which documents the abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church and scrolled through the 260 priests that were either accused, convicted or otherwise investigated in Los Angeles alone over the last thirty or so years and just sat there, my mouth open. Evidently, the current archbishop of Los Angeles made the unprecedented move yesterday of publicly shaming the Cardinal, although Mahoney was not stripped of his duties as a priest. The whole thing boggles the mind and shrinks the soul, and I sound righteous but every single person who sits in a Catholic church pew this beautiful sunny morning in Los Angeles is complicit if they don't demand that Mahoney be censured and stripped of performing his sacred duties. Someone on my Facebook page wrote a literal treatise comparing today's football game and why he's watching it despite neither team being his with his love of and proud membership in the Catholic Church. He wrote about Mahoney and he wrote about forgiveness and right about then, I deleted him from my page.
The third thing I'm thinking about is the Japanese action of hara-kiri, a kind of ritualized suicide practiced by defeated samurai and meant as atonement. My memories of hara-kiri are from my childhood and sort of cartoon-like -- the grossly shamed Japanese guy takes a knife and plunges it into his stomach and then pushes it upward toward the heart and then pulls it out as he dies. That business executives did it as late as 1999, carrying on a tradition that hearkens back to the 12th century, just makes the head spin. Evidently, killing oneself in such a brutal manner also demonstrated enormous psychological courage and was a way of winning back some honor even in defeat. Cardinal Mahoney and the countless other heads of church, including Pope Benedict and the supposedly saint-like John Paul, have not an ounce of psychological courage or integrity. I imagine forgiveness comes, first, inside one's heart where divine Love resides. Those men who protected their own and continue to do so at the expense of children whose lives have been irrevocably damaged, haven't even the decency to divest themselves of their power as priests and live quiet lives of atonement. Cardinal Mahoney will sit in his red, red robes and pointy hat in Rome with the other Cardinals, good Catholics will shake their heads and continue to drop donations into the basket passed by earnest parishioners, perhaps a little shakier in their beliefs but telling themselves that the traditions of the glorious Church to which they belong trump the most heinous acts of their leaders.