Friday, March 2, 2012

Funny hats, Royal Robes, Good Grief Charley Brown!

Hank Mattimore

Am I the only Catholic totally embarrassed by the recent “coronation” of new bishops into the ranks of cardinals in Rome? The miters on their heads, the flowery red robes, their funny little slippers on their feet, the opulence of the setting made me think of a Cecil B Demille movie about the Holy Roman Empire.

C’mon guys, who in the name of heaven is your PR Manager? Is this foppery the message you want to convey to the world? “Here we are in all our finery, the Church Triumphant.” Funny. I thought we were founded by a poor carpenter in Nazareth.”

Is this who we are, this assembly of silk robed old bucks parading down the aisles of St.Peter’s in medieval costumes? As a Catholic, I say, “Shame on you, Holy Father and your entourage of cardinals. You all look pretty silly.

Don’t tell me it is tradition. That kind of tradition didn’t start until Charlemagne declared the Church to be the official religion of the Holy Roman Empire, three centuries after Christ. The Holy Roman Empire is long gone? May it rest in peace.

I submit that the traditions we want to follow are rooted in the life of a poor carpenter, whose followers were chosen from the ranks of fishermen and ordinary working stiffs. I dare say there wasn’t a red robe to be found in their ranks.

If we are serious about honoring tradition, how do we explain the awkward fact that our first Pope had a mother-in-law? And what about the presence of all those women who followed Jesus so loyally? Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see even one woman in the Papal entourage.

Jesus chose his followers from ordinary folks. As far as I know he didn’t say “Okay, if you want to join me on my mission, you have to be male and celibate. No one else need apply.” I don’t think so.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am a Catholic and proud of it. My church has served the poor and the marginalized of the world. It has built schools and hospitals and been in the forefront for social justice, the rights of workers, the dignity of humankind.

I stand for this church, pray with its members and love what it stands for. The Church I identify with gives a preference for the poor and works for world peace and calls on people to love one another. That’s the Church I belong to.

As for your royal regalia, surely you can find a place for it in the Vatican Museum.