Papal Arrogance

August 10, 2012


The Roman Catholic Cardinal of Maryland has issued an order requiring the reading of a political position statement he authored, in every Roman Catholic Church in that state.

When the Pope makes appointments, he makes a statement. Sometimes the statement is very obvious. Other times, it is more covert. There is very little covertness about the appointment of Salvatore Cordileone as Archbishop of San Francisco. As one of the nation's most outspoken opponents of same-sex marriage, many people in the American Gay Community label him an extremist and a homophobe. His Archdiocese is known for progressive thinking, LGBT activism and progressive human rights . . . all of which are things His Reverence is against. This is nothing less than a Papal insult to the San Francisco LGBT Community.

His Excellency, the Most Reverend, Cordileone was one of the creators of California’s infamous Proposition 8, and once said, "Only one idea of marriage can stand . . . If that's going to be considered bigoted, we're going to see our rights being taken away – as is already happening."  He has regularly called any language that criticizes those who are critical of LGBT issues hate speech.

This appointment stands in stark contrast to local standards and beliefs. It is as if the Pope were to appoint a Korean archbishop of Japan, two countries with known enmity, or a black Archbishop to South Africa before the end of apartheid.  It is a radical act of a radical Pope. Its purpose is to underscore the powerlessness of the parishioners in the Catholic Church, the authority of the church hierarchy, and the entirely anti-democratic nature and beliefs of the upper echelons of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, in case any of you were wondering.

It is important to note here that, although the Pope can appoint anyone he likes, for a diocese to refuse the appointee is not unprecedented. There have been several instances, even in recent history when either the priests in the diocese or the lay parishioners refused the appointee. In some cases the appointee never actually set foot in the diocese because his flock would have ended his tenure as Archbishop by sending him immediately to commune with the saints in person.

The Pope, of course, before he became Pope, was in charge of that part of the church that enforces adherence to official doctrine and punishes dissent.  In earlier times his old department was known as the Inquisition.  He has always been a social and political conservative, and been a tireless advocate for turning the clock back to more repressive times. He is an anti-progressive. Change is something that is to be resisted. That he superintended the position of the leadership of the Catholic Church in covering up and defending child molesting priests is a good case in point. Progress or social evolution in ethics or attitudes are something to be rolled back to a former time, when things were better, as was the belief system in the Hitler Youth, where he spent his adolescence.

Politically, the Holy Father is more a disciple of Ayn Rand than Jesus. Those progressive voices within the Church that formerly championed such radical notions as Liberation Theology or Third World Debt Forgiveness have been all but expunged from any positions of authority or influence. There is such a shortage of priests that they have not been stripped of their ordination, but there is a significant effort to ordain deacons and to move many of the daily responsibilities of priests onto the shoulders of deacons in order to give the Church more “flexibility” in dealing with “rogue idealists.”

As the appointed Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone is tailor made for this new Church. He is a reactionary conservative who is adamantly against entertaining rational or practical arguments in evaluating the Church’s response to social problems. This is no relativist philosopher. What is right is always right and what is wrong is always wrong. There is no halfway in this cleric. He is relatively young, so his conservatism isn’t so much influenced by any fear of imminent post-mortem punishment, as it is the reflection of his early indoctrination in radical right-wing ideology, and its application within the Church.  Anyone who says that “marriage can only come about through the embrace of a man and a woman coming together. I don’t see how that is discriminatory against anyone” doesn’t display, in my opinion, sufficient empathy, sympathy, or human understanding to be an altar server, let alone an Archbishop.

Here is a man who denies the validity of any human sexuality or gender identity other than heterosexual male and female. He might as well be a 19th century prelate and he has been placed in charge of an archdiocese that includes one of the largest, most culturally diverse and creative LGBT communities on Earth.

What could the Pope have been thinking?  It’s gotta go, is probably close.

The concerned citizens of San Francisco, especially those who are, or formerly were, of the Catholic faith, have a duty to stand up, en masse, and rebuke this errant German gentleman in Rome and call for Salvatore Cordileone to be sent somewhere else. San Francisco deserves better than this.

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