May 21, 2006

Scandals, not 'Code,' reflect poorly on Catholicism


By Julie Muhlstein
Herald Columnist

Pretend you're in the refectory of the Dominican convent at Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. You stand before the real thing, Leonardo Da Vinci's "The Last Supper."

Step closer, if it's allowed. Is the figure to Jesus' right really Mary Magdalene, not the apostle John?

Oh wait, that's fiction, convincingly created by novelist Dan Brown in his mega-bestseller "The Da Vinci Code." I read it, couldn't put it down. The wild plot debunks Christianity top to bottom. In Brown's scenario, Jesus wasn't divine, he married Mary Magdalene, and their descendants survive to this day.

"The Da Vinci Code" movie, which opened Friday, is said to be less compelling. Even so, Catholic leaders the world over see a need to vocally discredit what's essentially a potboiler of a murder mystery. ..

Now a spiritual counselor with Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Waldie described one devastating encounter.

"It wasn't even direct abuse, but the fallout," she said. "I was working with a man in his 90s who was dying slowly at a nursing home run by the Sisters of Providence, a good nursing home, in Issaquah.

"This poor man was so angry, and the root of that anger was that his church had betrayed him," Waldie said. Disillusioned by revelations of abuse, and having financially supported the church and attended Mass all his life, "he didn't know if he could even believe in God," Waldie said. "It was heart-breaking."

"Nobody has a right to take that away from people, particularly not priests and bishops," she said. "Always, the church does a tremendous amount of good. Its job is to be a light to the world. The church is supposed to work at being holy and pure."

When I told Waldie I found it odd the Catholic Church is so intent on bashing fiction, she said, "I think 'The Da Vinci Code' is the perfect foil. It's great timing, a perfect distraction. It's something they can control. It makes them look good, and people can speak on it with authority."

Posted by kshaw at May 21, 2006 06:38 AM