The farce of moral monarchs.

This is by far the most laughable thing I’ve read about the Vatican over the past few days:

When Pope Paul VI’s commission of learned and loyal Catholics, lay and clerical, reconsidered the “natural law” teaching against birth control, and concluded that it could not, using natural reason, find any grounds for it, Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, the secretary of the Holy Office, told Paul that people had for years, on papal warrant, believed that using a contraceptive was a mortal sin, for which they would go to hell if they died unrepentant. On the other hand, those who followed “church teaching” were obliged to have many children unless they abstained from sex. How could Paul VI say that Pius XI, in his 1930 encyclical Casti Connubii, had misled the people in such a serious way? If he admitted it, what would happen to his own authority as moral arbiter in matters of heaven and hell? So Paul VI doubled down, adding another encyclical in 1968, Humanae Vitae, to the unrenounceable eternal truths that pile up around a moral monarch.

Meanwhile, the word on the street seems to be that the trip to Mexico last March broke the camel’s back:

[It] was haunted by the specter of the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the Mexican founder of the Legionaries of Christ, a powerful and deeply conservative religious order with close ties to John Paul’s papacy. Before he died in 2008, Father Maciel was found to have raped seminarians, fathered several children and engaged in drug abuse.

Throughout the visit, victims’ groups and other advocates organized news conferences and other events to call attention to what they saw as the church’s dismal record on sexual abuse, even though Benedict, as the Vatican’s chief doctrinal officer, had reopened an investigation into Father Maciel that ultimately disclosed his double life. But he failed to address the issue in Mexico, upsetting victims’ groups there and around the world.

This sums it all up, really. So little compassion for fellow humans as to not even offer a real apology. So little accountability as to not even face internal political pressure for so long over this repulsive negligence. And so little humility as to not even repent and recognise his own role in protecting rapists for decades.

But I guess that’s the problem. True remorse and a total apology would necessitate a personal acknowledgement of unfathomable and unforgivable guilt in facilitating evil. For the man who deems himself divinely placed to offer the rest of us moral guidance, achieving that sort of self-consciousness was always going to be a stretch.


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