The Holy Father, Capt Renault and the Irony of Truth

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The Holy Father, Capt Renault and the Irony of Truth

Capt Renault: I’m shocked shocked to find gam­bling going on here.

Coupier: Your win­nings sir

Capt Renault: Oh thank you very much, now every­body out at once!

Casablanca 1942

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples,

The scribes and the Phar­isees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. There­fore, do and observe all things what­so­ever they tell you, but do not fol­low their exam­ple. For they preach but they do not prac­tice. They tie up heavy bur­dens (hard to carry) and lay them on people’s shoul­ders, but they will not lift a fin­ger to move them.

Jesus Christ Matthew 23:14

I know that every­one today is talk­ing about the president’s speech (except Stacy McCain who I pre­sume is still in mourn­ing over the crush­ing defeat of Alabama by Clem­son) but this piece at PJ media really jumped out at me.

Pope Fran­cis sent an eight-​page let­ter to the U.S. Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bish­ops this week blam­ing “efforts made to deny or con­ceal” alle­ga­tions of sex­ual abuse for the “cri­sis of cred­i­bil­ity” the church is experiencing

The Piece by Debra (Nice Deb) Heine quoted the pon­tiff thus

“In recent years, the Church in the United States has been shaken by var­i­ous scan­dals that have gravely affected its cred­i­bil­ity,” he con­tin­ued. “The Church’s cred­i­bil­ity has been seri­ously under­cut and dimin­ished by these sins and crimes, but even more by the efforts made to deny or con­ceal them. This has led to a grow­ing sense of uncer­tainty, dis­trust and vul­ner­a­bil­ity among the faith­ful. As we know, the men­tal­ity that would cover things up, far from help­ing to resolve con­flicts, enabled them to fes­ter and cause even greater harm to the net­work of rela­tion­ships that today we are called to heal and restore.”

There is a great deal of irony in this speech, as Deb’s piece, Ray­mond Arroyo’s tweet and plenty more con­sid­er­ing the treat­ment of Car­di­nal
McCar­rick
by this pope and of the scan­dals con­cern­ing Papal favorite Bishop Gus­tavo Zanchetta which are only now get­ting trac­tion in a press con­clud­ing that the Holy Father util­ity to advance their agenda within the church is trumped by the chance to per­ma­nently dam­age the Church which stands against it.

But while this irony is a good hook, the pieces in ques­tion miss one impor­tant fact: The Pope’s diag­no­sis of the prob­lem is absolutely correct.

The sins of the indi­vid­ual priests were just that, the sins of indi­vid­u­als, they were heinous and hor­ri­ble sins and were a betrayal of trust, but in the end they were still sins com­mit­ted by them as per­sons rather than by the church as an insti­tu­tion and the respon­si­bil­ity of those sins belong to them.

How­ever the sin of the Church as an insti­tu­tion on the dioce­san, national and even inter­na­tional level was the sin of cow­ardice and or indif­fer­ence. The attempts to hide the behav­ior of these priests rather than make a very pub­lic exam­ple of them for vio­la­tion of both Church and crim­i­nal law was bad enough but the trans­fer­ring of such priests to new loca­tions com­pletely is about as bad as it gets. It’s not only indif­fer­ent to the safety and needs of new batch of poten­tial vic­tims but it was indif­fer­ent to needs of the perps who they were sup­pos­edly show­ing com­pas­sion to. (If that sounds odd ask your­self if it would be com­pas­sion­ate to give a junkie, espe­cially one try­ing to kick their habit, a job fill­ing prescriptions).

It’s worth not­ing that Cap­tain Renault cor­rup­tion was not illus­trated by his abrupt deci­sion under Nazi influ­ence to enforce the law con­cern­ing gam­bling at Rick’s Café, it was because he had for a long time turned a blind eye con­cern­ing the ille­gal gam­bling tak­ing place at Rick’s place in exchange for him “win­ning” reg­u­larly at roulette. The com­edy in hypocrisy comes from the famous scene quoted above illus­trat­ing his cor­rup­tion even in the midst of enforc­ing the law



There is noth­ing wrong with rightly point­ing out that the Holy Father’s moral author­ity in this mat­ter is at best severely com­pro­mised , but in doing so we should not fail to rec­og­nize that his diag­no­sis of the cause of the prob­lem is exactly right. This Pope’s fail­ings doesn’t the truth false if he speaks it any more than the sins of any indi­vid­ual priest makes a sacra­ment he dis­penses invalid. The con­fer­ence of US Catholic Bish­ops would be well advised to acknowl­edge this fact and act accordingly.

Alas it seems unlikely that Fran­cis will take his own advice to heart and act accord­ingly but you never know. After all I’m a man of faith and with God all things are possible.


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Capt Renault: I’m shocked shocked to find gambling going on here.

Coupier: Your winnings sir

Capt Renault: Oh thank you very much, now everybody out at once!

Casablanca 1942


Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples,

“The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens (hard to carry) and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.

Jesus Christ Matthew 23:1-4

I know that everyone today is talking about the president’s speech (except Stacy McCain who I presume is still in mourning over the crushing defeat of Alabama by Clemson) but this piece at PJ media really jumped out at me.

Pope Francis sent an eight-page letter to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops this week blaming “efforts made to deny or conceal” allegations of sexual abuse for the “crisis of credibility” the church is experiencing

The Piece by Debra (Nice Deb) Heine quoted the pontiff thus

“In recent years, the Church in the United States has been shaken by various scandals that have gravely affected its credibility,” he continued. “The Church’s credibility has been seriously undercut and diminished by these sins and crimes, but even more by the efforts made to deny or conceal them. This has led to a growing sense of uncertainty, distrust and vulnerability among the faithful. As we know, the mentality that would cover things up, far from helping to resolve conflicts, enabled them to fester and cause even greater harm to the network of relationships that today we are called to heal and restore.”

There is a great deal of irony in this speech, as Deb’s piece, Raymond Arroyo’s tweet and plenty more considering the treatment of Cardinal
McCarrick
by this pope and of the scandals concerning Papal favorite Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta which are only now getting traction in a press concluding that the Holy Father utility to advance their agenda within the church is trumped by the chance to permanently damage the Church which stands against it.

But while this irony is a good hook, the pieces in question miss one important fact: The Pope’s diagnosis of the problem is absolutely correct.

The sins of the individual priests were just that, the sins of individuals, they were heinous and horrible sins and were a betrayal of trust, but in the end they were still sins committed by them as persons rather than by the church as an institution and the responsibility of those sins belong to them.

However the sin of the Church as an institution on the diocesan, national and even international level was the sin of cowardice and or indifference. The attempts to hide the behavior of these priests rather than make a very public example of them for violation of both Church and criminal law was bad enough but the transferring of such priests to new locations completely is about as bad as it gets. It’s not only indifferent to the safety and needs of new batch of potential victims but it was indifferent to needs of the perps who they were supposedly showing compassion to.  (If that sounds odd ask yourself if it would be compassionate to give a junkie, especially one trying to kick their habit, a job filling prescriptions).

It’s worth noting that Captain Renault corruption was not illustrated by his abrupt decision under Nazi influence to enforce the law concerning gambling at Rick’s Cafe, it was because he had for a long time turned a blind eye concerning the illegal gambling taking place at Rick’s place in exchange for him “winning” regularly at roulette. The comedy in hypocrisy comes from the famous scene quoted above illustrating his corruption even in the midst of enforcing the law

There is nothing wrong with rightly pointing out that the Holy Father’s moral authority in this matter is at best severely compromised , but in doing so we should not fail to recognize that his diagnosis of the cause of the problem is exactly right. This Pope’s failings doesn’t the truth false if he speaks it any more than the sins of any individual priest makes a sacrament he dispenses invalid. The conference of US Catholic Bishops would be well advised to acknowledge this fact and act accordingly.

Alas it seems unlikely that Francis will take his own advice to heart and act accordingly but you never know. After all I’m a man of faith and with God all things are possible.

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Of course one time Tip jar hits and always welcome too.
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