Thursday, February 14, 2013

Paolo Gabrielle For Pope

I read what others are writing about the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI; sometimes with interest, sometimes with eyes glazed over from reading the same thing being said over and over.  Two articles, however, caught my attention -- one New York Times op-ed written by Jason Berry and one about Paolo Gabrielle, the pope’s butler.  Thank you to Abuse Tracker for posting one article and Frank Douglas for drawing my attention to the other.

First, Jason Berry, who is very well researched, wrote about a detail that should be well known but had not been catalogued in my brain before.  In his New York Times op-ed he wrote about Cardinal Sodano.  Apparently Pope Benedict XVI, when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, wanted to investigate Marcel Maciel, the founder of the Legionnaire's of Christ and legendary, chronic abuser of boys and women and girls and men.  Cardinal Sodano pressured Pope John Paul II to end this investigation, and he did.  The former Cardinal Ratzinger attempted other positive steps concerning the clergy abuse issue, only to be opposed by the powerful Cardinal Sodano.  Pope Benedict XVI has slime on his hands too.  He knew about abuse and covered it up too, but we should give credit for what he did do -- namely investigate and punish Marcel Maciel as well as meet with some clergy abuse survivors to hear their stories and a few other positive actions.

Why I am so concerned is that Cardinal Sodano was elected dean of the College of Cardinals which will elect the next Pope.  This cannot be good news for anyone who wants to end abuse and care for survivors wounded in our Catholic Church.

When the clergy abuse scandal burst forth in 2002, pressured by media stories and legal action, the Church made some genuine progress in it’s handling of the issue.  As the lawsuits and the bankruptcies and media coverage of the issue abated, the Church seems to be regressing.  It appears we are in for much more regression.   In my opinion this means even less support for survivors and increased likelihood for more abuse in the present and the future.  It we want to end abuse, we have to talk about it; we have to tackle it head one.  We can and should try new approaches, but we must not sweep the issue under the rug.  We must act on our moral convictions

Acting on one’s moral convictions leads me to the second article that I read that caught my attention -- a long article about Paolo Gabrielle, the former butler to Pope Benedict XVI.  Gabrielle appears to be a deeply spiritual man who is not afraid to act on his convictions.  This kind of person is in short supply and it is precisely the kind of person we need as pope -- which is why I am nominating Gabrielle for the job.  Let us forget the fact that he is married and not a priest.  You don’t have to be unmarried and a priest to be holy and inspired.  I think Paolo Gabrielle is holy and inspired.  Apparently, Church leaders were so inspired by the passion and conviction with which Paolo cleaned church toilets, that he ended up in successively better jobs in the Church and the Vatican until he became the Pope Benedict’s butler.  He is a very pious man who neither drinks nor smokes nor did he engage in premarital sex.  He is also a very devout Catholic who joined Pope Benedict XVI in prayer.  But along the way he became aware that all is not well in the Vatican, that there is corruption and moral turpitude in the Vatican.  He was slow to act, but he began to act by steering documents to a journalist, who wrote articles and a book exposing Vatican corruption.  He did not do this for money.  He did this out of love for Church and Pope, because he felt others were standing in the way of the Pope’s efforts to reform and renew the Church.  

Gabrielle knew there was a risk to what he was doing, and he did it anyway.  He was tried and went to prison for what he did.  I think that this is the sort of action that carrying your cross is supposed to refer to.  Jesus carried his cross to his crucifixion.  He did not commit any real crimes; but he carried out moral actions.  Mostly Jesus upset the status quo in the  religious and political establishment of 1st century Palestine.  Maybe his ministry was so short it elicited no mention in Roman documents of the time, but his actions and his ideas were so inspirational to the masses and so frightening to the governing elite, that his followers were mentioned by Roman chroniclers within a few decades.  

This is precisely the kind of leader that the Catholic Church needs in a Pope.  It should not be a problem that Gabrielle is not a priest and that he is married because Peter, the first pope, was married and was not an ordained priest.

So I nominate Paolo Gabrielle for Pope.

2013 (c) Copyright Virginia Pickles Jones

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