The Millennial Memory…

I was going to defer this commentary until after Dan posted his commentary and addenda to the bowdlerized PBS Whitman hagiography which, while it was a nice attempt, proved once again how subtly Gay people and beautiful same sex love can be written out of history…no sin but omission. But I can’t wait…and since we offered Father John McNeill’s views on things, I feel moved to share my own point of view of this…

The Pope is in America…and everyone is so worked up and excited.

Bush_and_pope Your first clue that this stinks is George Bush is receiving him at the White House. Church and State, once again, cozy at the highest levels. We live in an age of hypocrisy and perhaps the only way to be able to get out of bed in the morning is to at the very least, call it what it is.

I’m particularly taken with the media coverage of it all that, while reminding folks of the “controversy” — that is corporate media’s Mother’s Milk (ka-ching!) — it still manages to gloss over with what is bewilderingly called “balance” these days, with the moony-eyed musings of the “faithful” contrasted with the last seething furious gasps of the thousands of men and boys who have been molested, as though they have equal merit. And somehow they manage to leave out the part where this Pope, in his former job as head of what was the office of the Inquisition in another time, instructed those in charge…those responsible for protecting children (hello Texas!) …to play it out for time so the statutes of limitations would take effect. Bill Maher nails this one beautifully in his recent “Rules.”

But what I am reminded of as we watch the flash and the dash, the pomp and the circumstance, the gold and the satin, the grandeur and the theater of it all, of the Papacy paraded before us as though this was some moral model, is something I was told when I was, years ago, the Parish Council Chairman of Holy Trinity Parish on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

One of my closest friends in those days was a Franciscan priest who was living at the parish (not diocesan, in other words). He shall remain nameless here, because he continues to be a priest…a Gay priest, I might add, who loved his cocktails a little too much…and if reports are true, now the Pastor of a parish in one of the bigger primary states. I loved Michael, and still do, even though I haven’t seen him in years, and I would never want to cause him any embarrassment. Michael was a good friend of the “Saint of 9/11” Mychal Judge, and is the reason I meet Father Judge many years ago.

Anyway…probably the most interesting idea Fr. Michael passed along to me was the idea of the “institutional memory” of the Roman Catholic Church. His point was this: the Church views time in a different way than the rest of the hoi polloi.

I was all ready for some mystical take on time and eternity and what-have-you. But no. WhatGalileo_facing_the_roman_inquisitio  he meant was the Church and its hierarchy view time in a “millennial view.” That was the term he used. A millennial view.  The very long millennial view. In other words: these things shall pass. A century from now, who will remember? Who will be around to remember? The Church will still be there, of course, but generations of regular folks come and go…and they die. They forget. All that is remembered after a while, say a generation…maybe two…ok, three… is the flash and the dash, the pomp and the circumstance, the gold and the satin, the grandeur and the theater of it all. So…a hundred years…a mere blink of an eye, if that, to an institution like the Catholic Church…200 years…what is 200 years to an institution that has been around in cozy bed with the powers of the world for 2000 years? The one thing this millennial view affords is priceless: people will forget. Who remembers the Inquisition? Who, nowadays, even cares? Who remembers what was done to American Indians in the name of Christianity?

Bushcardinallaw And who…a thousand years from now, will remember the hundreds of thousands of boys who were molested, abused? And how the Church worked not to wash it clean with the cleansing light of day, but to hide it away until the secular laws ran out the clock? How does an institution pull off something like an Inquisition and still maintain the illusion of moral probity? How does an institution pull off something like not only the on-going molestation and abuse of thousands of children, but covering it up and paying people off for years…

Sleepy…you’re getting sleepy. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about these matters.

Father will take care of it for you. Rest your head in his satin-covered lap as he bathes you in incense and architecture and unctuous oils and candles…the flash and the dash, the pomp and the circumstance, the gold and the satin, the grandeur and the theater of it all…

And soon you will forget…

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