Man of the Year


While at work the other night, a friend sent a text – in hind sight a rather mischievous one, as he knew I would drop my jaw. Time announcing Pope Francis as the 2013 man of the year didn’t sit well.

“For pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets, for committing the world’s largest church to confronting its deepest needs, and for balancing judgment with mercy, Pope Francis is Time’s 2013 Person of the Year” 

Time’s reasoning alone makes me bristle. Their statement declares – plain as day – that the Catholic church has until now has been sitting in an ivory palace. You don’t say? To continue; Pope Francis is being honored for “balancing judgement and mercy” – holy crap, am I the only one throwing up in my mouth?

Truth be told – this ponderer was prepared to cut new Pope some slack. As self appointed masters of morality go, Francis presented himself as a whiff of fresh air. Silly me – his announcement of a committee to address issues of abuse; more accurately “education and counselling” for clergy incapable of keeping their hands off the choir boys – provided Bishops didn’t have to answer to anyone, made me gag. Way to man up Francis; that should be enough to stifle anguished children.

In fairness to Francis – he didn’t ask for Time’s decision.

President Obama, NSA leaker Edward Snowden, Syria President Bashar Assad, Iran President Hassan Rouhani, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, gay rights activist Edith Windsor and Miley Cyrus were the other finalists. Taking some solace in rising above Ted Cruz and Miley Cyrus does little to settle me down; despite picking up the pieces of my blown mind that Cruz or Cyrus were considered even for a second.

Reminding myself Time is a media giant, one that prospers based on advertising worries me. Time executives deemed Francis the best cover story in terms of sales and ad dollars. Pondering what that tells us about society, look no farther than possible candidates Cruz, Cyrus, or Amazon founder Jeff Bezos – a close minded right wing fanatic, a vacant little twerker, and founder of a billion dollar empire – what’s so great about any one of them? In my wildest dreams, it eludes me how any of them made a lick of difference in the world – Pope Francis has millions upon millions of twitter followers; are “likes” and “followers” the new measure of a man?

Looking at the list since Time started featuring a “person” of the year in 1927, I find a few odd choices. Controversial at the time, but not – in my pondering opinion – as blatantly absurd. Adolf Hitler in 1938, Ayatullah Khomeini in 1979 – strange choices, chosen by Time for their “news worthiness”, good or bad. Fair enough Time if that’s how you gauge your picks, and explain yourselves for doing so.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_Person_of_the_Year

I’m irked about Pope Francis because Time failed to make this distinction. On the heels of the Vatican’s recent announcement to create a committee for purposes of educating the clergy as to why sexually abusing children isn’t a good thing – an Inuit priest was under investigation for 80 counts of sexual offences involving children.

Time – give credit if and when it’s due – otherwise, explain yourselves accordingly. Who knows, maybe Francis is the Pope to purge the church of pedophiles; he has his work cut out, and global job fair to organize once parishes are swept clean. A Pope who managed  publicly to de-frock sexual criminals would indeed be a worthy person of the year. Until then – Time’s choice strikes me as plain silly. Silly, as in a desperate attempt to appeal to fundamentalist hogwash.

Pontiff Forms Commission on Sex Abuse


The Vatican has announced formation of a commission to protect young people from Catholic priests. To be fair; not all priests, just those with a fondness for “choir boys”. Spokesman, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston broke the news today; reportably a recommendation coming out of the Council of Cardinals meeting in Rome this week. Pope Francis, acting on the advice of his advisory council, gave the green light to “draft guidelines for prevention of abuse, developing training programs, advising on co-operation with law enforcement officials, and promoting care of victims of abuse”.

The as yet to be appointed commission members will be experts on sexual abuse and prevention. Up until now, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have been handling discipline for naughty priests. Cardinal O’Malley didn’t know if the commission would have authority over Bishops who cover up allegations of abuse by priests. The announcement comes on the heels of the church refusing  a United Nations request to provide information on how it dealt with abusive clergy.

Call me cynical but something smells fishy. I’ve pondered Pope Francis long and hard – my conclusion being, he might be a man willing to make some changes. On the surface this announcement reads like a step in the right direction. Peel back a few layers and I’m still astounded. The very fact that a commission needs to be formed in order to “educate” and “counsel” clergy leaves me speechless.

I have a novel idea – how about a zero tolerance policy? If the church truly wanted to send a message, wouldn’t it make sense to say “oh hell no” –  fiddle with children and you’re history. When a teacher interferes with a student they lose their job and face prosecution. If a coach, doctor or anyone in position of trust diddled about they would be slapped so fast their head would spin. Why do we allow the church to form commissions in order to educate their paedophiles – let them find counselling in jail.

Paedophiles are an insidious bunch – for starters they believe their actions are sincere and harmless. They’re beyond “education and counselling” – I would laugh if it wasn’t so tragic. How can intelligent people sit back and watch as the church throws out another bone? The only way to put an end to this epidemic is to squelch it at the source; society has no obligation to let the church clean it’s own house. At some point we have to say “enough”, you had your chance and blew it big time – now the law will see to it that young lives aren’t shattered.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/pope-francis-forms-commission-to-advise-on-sex-abuse-1.2452054

Pope Francis is assembling a panel of experts to advise him on sex abuse in the clergy.

Pope Francis is assembling a panel of experts to advise him on sex abuse in the clergy. (Max Rossi/Reuters)

Bad Bishop of Limburg


When the head of the world’s richest corporation suspends one of it’s executives for extravagance and an overly lavish lifestyle – I stand up and take notice. When that CEO is the pope, executive the Bishop of Limburg – you have my full attention. This is worth pondering; the Catholic church isn’t an institution known for airing their dirty laundry.

So what does it take for the Vatican to draw the line? At what point does the pope stand at attention and declare – “oh hell no”? It appears the Bishop of Limburg knows the answer to those questions – Bishop Tebartz-van Elst probably shouldn’t have spent $42 million renovating his official residence. Even if he bathed in holy water, a bath costing $20,000 is hard to explain. Travelling on a first class ticket to visit the poor in India is a no brainer. Perhaps his nickname – the “Bishop of bling” sealed the deal. Lies to the court under oath about spending, certainly didn’t further his cause.

What does the church do with a suspended Bishop? If this were a sexual abuse scandal, he might be hustled off to another diocese or “retired” to a sleepy little corner of the world. The Bishop of Bling is only 53 years old – retirement not much of an option. Pope Francis has a true papal quandary to resolve; abusive priests are old news – public admission of flagrant, self serving excess, poses an entirely new set of considerations. The outcome should prove interesting.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/pope-removes-germany-s-luxury-bishop-from-diocese-1.2186497

Image from theguardian.com

Searching For the Wrong Eyed Jesus


If you haven’t pondered this documentary – now is the time.

http://kickass.to/middle-americana-searching-for-the-wrong-eyed-jesus-2004-t1261658.html

Pope Tweets


I don’t know why I laughed when hearing that the Pope made his first “tweet” today. It most likely came from the visual, or perhaps my  burning desire to discover if he was an iphone or Blackberry pontiff. I pictured him surrounded by a gaggle of Cardinals, helpfully guiding him through the process. Without warning one of the imaginary Cardinals became John Cleese. Game over.

He had a million followers when he opened his Twitter account. Not bad #pontifex! Unfortunately all was not roses; the Vatican revealed  a number of negative responses. In particular the subject of abuse within the Catholic church. Not to be discouraged Benedict XVI has announced he will take questions at #askpontifex.

When the Vatican announced a few years ago that extraterrestrial life was possible; as there was no limit to God’s power, I was impressed. Now a Pope that Tweets. There is indeed no end to God’s power.