Friday, April 9, 2010

On being being prickly, Irish, worthy of abuse, and Team Constance

Last week, Sinéad Marie Bernadette O'Connor had a great column in the Washington Post. It was so great, so complete, and so pointed that I really didn't think I could blog about it at all. It felt like it would be superfluous or diminishing. I'm sure just about everyone who's reading this blog remembers 1992, when Sinéad O'Connor tore up a photo of JPII on Saturday Night Live while singing, a capella in her rich Irish mezzo, Bob Marley's War. "Fight the real enemy", she said as she shredded the photo. So much of her column stayed with me. I emailed the address she provided. I told her she was great and I was proud to be an O'Leary and Irish, along with her. 

Sinéad O'Connor, 1992, NBC (Saturday Night Live)

In her column, she asked, whether "Irish Catholics, because we daren't say 'we deserve better,' should be treated as though we deserve less" in response to the Teflon Pope's wholly inadequate apology for the decades long events that are still being revealed in Ireland. The events that despite the growing number of reports in places like Norway, the US (just google it, okay- there are way too many to choose from and I don't want anyone to feel singled or left out), Germany and even probably in India (nothing like knowing how to convert people, right?), the Teflon Pope seemed to suggest were just an Irish problem. Well, this week, a lot of people seemed to deserve so much better than what they got.

As one site, Get Religion, claims, the press just doesn't get religion... Of course, I suppose there have been all manner of defenses of the Catholic Church, which definitely in my mind, still isn't quite getting what it deserves. Defenses or should I say... offenses, when trying to defend the indefensible? For instance, the Bishop of Tenerife is really just outstanding in his claim that some of the adolescents were consenting and therefore it was okay for supposedly sworn to celibacy priests to have molested them. Though, in fairness, the Vatican went out of its way to distance itself from the Brazilian Cardinal Scherer, who spoke about exorcism rather than incarceration as the solution the other day. And they also tried to do the same (though it was a bit harder to do that with their own elected defender who spoke in an unprecedented fashion right before the Teflon Pope on Easter Sunday Mass), with Father Cantalamesso, who likened the persecution of Jews to the present "persecution" of the Church over the fact that they've sheltered pedophiles for decades if not centuries. (Of course, the Brazilian Catholic Church holds an especially cherished place in my thoughts because of their opposition to the abortion obtained by the 9 year old who had been raped and impregnated with twins by her stepfather. Did I mention they ex-communicated the mother, the child, and the doctors that saved the 9 year old child from delivering twins? They didn't, as I understand it, ex-communicate the stepfather. I have a lot of wonderful Brazilian friends but somehow I just don't have friendly feelings for the Catholic Church there, which has the largest number of Catholics of any country in the world. Yeah, it's an old story from last year, but still, talk about not getting what you deserve, for anyone involved.) 

Yesterday, as Maureen Dowd so 'adversarially' pointed out, "How can we maintain... faith when our leaders are unworthy of it?" How perfectly she captures not just the Church but even politics at this juncture, or even... public high schools in Mississippi and Massachusetts where there are further examples still of people not getting what they deserved. Sometimes I find Maureen a bit... edgy. I've always enjoyed her fire and ire, though sometimes I think she gets abrasive and deters some of the choir. And I think she knows that about herself. Because she got her brother Kevin, who's evidently really devout, to give her comments on the situation with the Catholic Church, Ireland, and the Teflon Pope. His comments, “In pedophilia, the church has unleashed upon itself a plague that threatens its very future, and yet it remains in a curious state of denial," are rather daunting when you consider that she describes him as truly one of the faithful. 

But I find what Maureen Dowd says to be true, across the board this week. "Our leaders are unworthy." Whether we're talking about Phoebe Prince (latest), whose face and fate just linger in my mind. She was the child who it seems didn't dare say she deserved better and whose school faculty, administration and fellow students didn't seem to think she deserved better either.

Phoebe Prince, CBS News

Or Constance McMillen, on whose behalf, along with so many other teens and adults who are persecuted for their sexual orientation, I just signed an ACLU petition to my legislators. (I'm sure those of you who have kept up know about how Constance was tricked into attending a decoy prom so that she definitely wouldn't attend the real prom arranged privately by other students and their parents from her school. They even made a Facebook page called "Quit Yer Crying Constance" and posted photos of themselves at the real prom, and some of the students were all bent out of shape when their public Facebook photos were picked up and maligned all over the blogosphere. Like so many others who are Team Constance, I fanned the mean page so that I could post to say I love Constance and I'm not afraid of a girl in a tuxedo.)
Constance McMillen
(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

The bad press for the Catholic Church and the Teflon Pope just spins on and on. While South Hadley High and Itawamba Agricultural High School certainly aren't in the same league as an organization covering for pedophiles, I'm not left feeling appreciably better about whoever it is that's running things. It certainly doesn't seem like a higher power should be letting all these many, many things, both great and 'small', go so very wrong. 

I guess in my rather tenuous belief system, if I have faith in anything it's that cruelty in any form is just plain wrong. 

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