Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

B-b-b-b-benny and the Jets

I've been reading both the text of the "remarks" of the Holy Father to the U.S. Bishops, as well as various reactions thereto and my thoughts were arrested by something which also struck Fr. James Martin, SJ.

The rather, er, frank nature with which B16 discussed the sexual abuse scandal and the generally abysmal response of the bishops thereto. Not only did His Holiness address the matter with, um, none-too-diplomatic language* but he did so, in Fr. Martin's words: "in a public setting — before the assembled bishops and cardinals, and before the television cameras. In essence, before the world."

Fr. Martin asks "But was it enough?"

No, but it wasn't meant to be, much like the first blast of chemotherapy isn't meant to eradicate a tumor in one fell swoop.

I'm of the view the Pope isn't quite done with this. There are those who might be anxious to see more, soon. There may be those who are disappointed the Holy Father didn't wade into the crowd of bishops to whack several of them on the noggin with his crozier. But a careful study of his style and modus operandi will reveal he is a particularly methodical man, given to deliberate action. His address to the bishops -- even when interwoven with macramé-and-felt wording not his own -- may have come as a surprise to many (like me) but not to him.

Whenever you see or read anything of B16's you can be certain he has thought this through. Like a brilliant chess player, he isn't thinking of his current move, he is thinking 3-4 moves ahead.

Now, I'd also like to (respectfully) disagree somewhat with Fr. Martin's assessment that "Earlier, on the plane from Rome he explicitly, and rightly, distinguished between homosexuality and pedophilia." B16 said: "I will not speak at this moment about homosexuality: this is another thing." My understanding of those somewhat ambiguous remarks is B16's stating he will address later the issue of homosexuality at a later point, i.e., those remarks are for another discussion and for another time. [The fact that between 78%-84% (depending on whose numbers you go by) of the victims of sexual abuse by priests were between adolescent males makes it difficult to disentangle and isolate any factors at play.]

Setting all that aside, the crucial bit to keep in mind is the Pope is watching the bishops with a keen eye, whether they realize it (or its import) or not.



* Over at OTR, there is an excellent dissection of the difference between the typical USCCB verbiage and the more salutary words one is used to hearing from B16.