November 21, 2005

Roman Inquisition

Mother Jones

Unlike some Catholics of a certain age, who moan that the sex abuse scandal that burst onto the front pages almost four years ago shattered their faith in the presumed purity of priests, I didnít grow up with the notion of priests as saints. Those in my acquaintance ate too much, smoked like stacks, bet on horses, and earned our allegiance, or didnít, by the quality of their hearts. Saints, in any case, were dead, and I was vaguely aware of my own childish hubris in aspiring to be one. It was much later that I realized many of the saints werenít even saints, in the colloquial sense of the word. As if to underscore that fact, in the midst of the scandal, in 2002 Pope John Paul II canonized a man who not only wrestled with devils, flagellated himself to bleeding, fasted to the point of collapse, and bore the stigmata but was also accused of having had sexual dalliances with women and of pomading his hair, perfuming his body, and wearing makeup. The Vatican once forbade Padre Pio, or Saint Pio da Pietrelcina as he is now called, from teaching teenage boys and hearing the confessions of women.

Posted by kshaw at November 21, 2005 03:37 PM