Friday, April 18, 2008

A Shift

I was not happy when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI back in 2005. Perhaps it was his previous position as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Holy Office of the Inquisition) which left me cold. Maybe it was his reputation and nickname “God’s Rottweiler”. No matter, as a staunch supporter of Blessed Pope John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council of the early 1960s (commonly referred to as Vatican II), I was quite concerned that as Pope, Benedict XVI would unravel the best parts of the Catholic Church. The fact that then Father Joseph Ratzinger was in attendance at Vatican II did nothing to assuage my worry.

As the months turned into years, my opinion had not changed about Pope Benedict XVI. Then he decided to come to the United States. Then he looked so darned open and interested in everything around him. Then he decided to meet with a small group of survivors of sexual abuse by priests from the Archdiocese of Boston. Then the first hand reports of that meeting began to emerge. That’s when I felt something shift inside me.

I remember when I was in the midst of a Roman Catholic annulment of my first marriage. I had not initiated it, but nonetheless I was neck deep in paperwork and pain. Late in the process I spoke with a Monsignor from the Tribunal. It was a long conversation and a frank one on my part. I expressed anger, sadness and frustration. It was in that priest’s voice and words I felt what I had never expected to feel: vindication. I was away from the Church at that time, estranged or lapsed from the weekly ritual of Mass, but still felt very much like the Irish Catholic kid I once was. In that conversation and in the subsequent granting of the annulment, I felt that the Church had supported me in a concrete, proactive way which I had not felt since my childhood and never so powerfully.

My sadness and pain during my divorce and annulment was as nothing compared to the betrayal and abuse inflicted on innocents by evil individuals and compounded by a Church hierarchy running scared and refusing to live up to their own moral code. But as I listened to the voices of the survivors who met with Pope Benedict yesterday, I could begin to imagine their relief and the leading edge of a burden being lifted. I could begin to open my own heart to the possibility that Pope Benedict appreciates what Blessed Pope John XXIII brought to the Church via Vatican II.

Then I read this on
[Boston’s] Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, who pushed for the meeting after the pope decided not to include Boston in his U.S. itinerary, gave the pope an oversize hand-sewn book made of color-washed paper in which a calligrapher had written the names of nearly 1,500 men and women from the Boston area who have reported being sexually abused by priests over the last six decades.

and I cried.


purpleronnie said...

This is a beautiful post. I love how much things mean to you. It is truly inspirational.

Pink Granite said...

Thank you so much Ronnie, for your thoughtful and kind comment.
- Lee