Kate Clinton

Sit on My Lapse

Filed By Kate Clinton | October 26, 2009 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Benedict XVI, Catholic church, parish church, Roman Catholic Church, the Pope

When people wonder to me about what I'll do without George Bush, I tell them that I'll always have the Pope. And of course, the Cheneys who are keeping America safe, but not from themselves. I could do a whole new ninety minute Pope show if it weren't so annoying to my never or now non-Catholic friends. We lapsed Catholics find ourselves endlessly interesting, but it is a special ring of hell for listeners.

From his dubious just-following holy orders deep past, to his more recent past as Czar of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, under his old boss Pope John Paul II, who is beginning to look as benign as Mr. Magoo, Pope Benedict XVI's highlight reel of his four years pontificating is a doozy.

Like a sandcastle basilica facing an incoming tide, the RCC is facing a sea of secularism, and the Pope is using his mitered shovel to dig a futile moat. Since attendance at confession is down, big time, he upgraded sins for the modern era: drug dealing, corporate greed, child abuse. He incentivized confession by bringing back indulgences. Think double coupon days. He got rid of Limbo, just when I was getting over the loss of Pluto. He went to Africa and recklessly said that condoms have nothing to do with stopping the spread AIDS.

The Pope brought back the Tridentine face to-the-wall Latin mass. The mass looks like a time-out-corner punishment in kindergarten. He said protecting heterosexuality from the onslaught of homosexuality is as important as protecting the rainforests from destruction, making LGBT the clearcutters in the virgin forest of heterosexuality. First he tried to root gay men out of seminaries and lately he has been rooting out American nuns, for the sin of liberalism and tirelessly running the church's charities, hospitals, schools and cleaning up the altar after the mass. I have made our apartment a safe house on the underground railway for runaway nuns. Tell your friends. Password: Song of Bernadette.

And fall membership drives are no longer just the province of Public Radio. In a bid to boost his numbers, and annex the Divineland, the Pope preemptively cancelled the 450 year old split with Henry VIII's old Anglican Church and welcomed them, individually, by parish or by diocese into the healing vortex of the RCC after just a wee bit of counseling in the sweat lodge. More hot rocks! He is one Spiritual Warrior.

Acquisition details are still being worked out with uh, no one, certainly not the middling Archbishop of Canterbury and not so much with Episcopalians, that gay-bishop ordaining American League branch of the Anglican Church. Married Anglican priests with the impeccable het credentials of the wife and kids are welcomed. In your dreams is it the beginning of married priests. All reactionary, angry, misogynistic, homophobic Anglicans are also welcome.

Meanwhile in upstate New York, my two brothers and their wives have been trying to keep their parish churches open. One brother from a small rural church first participated in prayerful sit-ins to forestall the closure and then occupied the church after the bishop ordered it closed. He went with his parish committee to Rome to plead their case. The church was shuttered. My other brother was in a liberal urban parish that welcomed the LGBT community, performed gay weddings and long participated in local anti-poverty and anti-war movements. He and his wife called their parish "The St. James Barely Catholic Church". The church was one of the first closed.

As a lesbian I have very little tolerance for the Catholic Church. It has less for me. My Hindu girlfriend, with the cool belief in reincarnation and many-armed deities, urges me to have more respect for the Catholic Church. After this latest move by the Pope and the church's usual denial of what is really going on in the back room, I have less respect for the church, but greater admiration for my brothers, their wives and all those who have struggled to keep their church open to all who practice loving spirituality in a secular world.

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The Mr. Magoo reference had me giggling crazy.

SO TRUE. My mother and I had this conversation just two days ago. They closed my old school, and now the Catholic store in Detroit is shutting down because people have no money left to buy rosaries when they're being squeezed for cash to ban love.

Can you tell I'm bitter?