LENT BEGINS, AND THE POPE RESIGNS: A FITTING CONFLUENCE FOR AN AILING CHURCH … !PLANET SCOOP! SURPRISE DRILLS TO BE PART OF ‘THIRD THURSDAYS’ (CITIZENS BE WARNED) … plus … WE ANSWER SEAN’s QUESTION ABOUT WYNN, BOWLER, AND GANGS
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, FEB. 13, 2013) — How appropriate that on this first day of Lent the disarrayed hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church finds itself dealing with a lame-duck pontiff. Pope Benedict‘s resignation shocker comes at a time when the Church, through the stubborn resistance to modernity by a collective bunch of old men woefully out of touch, finds itself riding on the tide of a receding wave.
One thing you can be sure of: The Vatican has not revealed the full story behind the Pope’s resignation. We can leave it at that. Benedict spent his papacy mired in one controversy after the next, from enraging Muslims in 2006 to the inexcusable child-rape scandal that exploded in America in 2008-09 and in Ireland and Europe in 2010. The child-rape nightmare exposed the vulnerable underbelly of the Church and its hierarchy, and the exodus has been on since.
Good intentions be damned, Benedict sought to correct what he interpreted as misinterpretations and misapplications of the reforms of Vatican II, which sought to make the Church pertinent and material in a new post-war, post-modern world. To sum up, however inadequately, the Pope tried to turn back the clock to 1958. He could have read Scott Fitzgerald‘s The Great Gatsby and saved himself a lot of trouble: Repeat the past? It can’t be done.
To his credit, Benny, an old man when elected, became more than a coat holder, giving eight years to the job. He did his best, but he found the Church too caught up in the snares of the world — political snares, money snares, doctrinal snares. These traps make it all too easy to obscure the message of Jesus, which can be summed up by the Golden Rule. There has never been a more satisfying ethical statement in answer to how we should live our lives here on this good earth.
Don’t be a jerk. It’s as simple as that. The Church, though, has overcomplicated this equation, losing sight of the wheat field through the communion hosts.
Roncalli: The Last Truly Great Pope
As Pope, Benedict stocked the College of Cardinals with those who will likely vote to continue the Church’s neocon version of Catholicism, which has ruled the day since the death of the last truly great Pope, Cardinal Angelo Roncalli, who became Pope John XXIII in 1963. Pope John, the “People’s Pope,” came from peasant stock, and ordinary man who found himself holding the Keys of the Kingdom. John realized how stagnant, moribund, and stale the Church had become. He understood this once-great body was rotting from the head down.
There’s the famous story of the Pope startling his cardinal advisers during a meeting by getting up, flinging open a window, and declaring: “Apriamo la finestre,” Latin for “Open the windows.” He meant the Church needed to let in some fresh air. He then ordered a radical solution: He convened Vatican II. How radical was Vatican II? It would be like the NFL adopting the rules of Arena Football.
This historic meeting was well on its way to honestly addressing the Church’s position on issues such as sexuality, the ordination of women, marriage for priests, and allowance of birth control when, on June 3, 1963, John passed away.
The old men in the Vatican, who today we would call religious neocons, took advantage of the opportunity by electing one of their own, Cardinal Giovanni Montini, who became Pope Paul VI. Montini began to appease those who elected him, taking the teeth out of much of what Pope John intended, including the ruling in 1968 on birth control (see Paul VI’s Encyclical Letter, Humanae Vitae). The Church has been playing catch-up ever since.
Benedict tried without success to turn back the clock in Europe and America. This left the Church with three important growth centers: Hispanics, Filipinos, and to a lesser extent, Africans, ethnic groups still held spiritually within the realm of what resembles voodoo and superstition. The Third World will be the future of the Church, and it won’t be surprising to see the next Pope hail from there.
Who will be the Pope’s successor? Progressives are hoping for Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Archbishop of Vienna, a man THE PLANET met and interviewed in 2008 in Rome while there on assignment. Schoenborn, though, is probably a long shot. We wold welcome a Hispanic or a black man. Our guess is the Cardinals play it safe, electing an elderly, white European and especially a man the Church’s bureaucracy can control.
FLAKES OF ‘SNOWMAGEDDON’ CONTINUE TO FALL
The fallout from Snowmageddon continues to fall. By our calculations here at the FORTRESS’ weather station, we guess about a foot of Monday morning quarterbacking has fallen. God help us if we get 12 inches.
Our spies tell us that Mayor Dan Bianchi has ordered Snow Drills for the roadways and streets, patterned along the lines of life-boat drills on ocean liners. The idea will be this summer, at some point during every Third Thursday, the city will sound the “Arooooooga Horn.” That will signal the presence of a virtual snowstorm.
Upon hearing the signal, everyone will be required to immediately drop what they’re doing and head into various shelters that have been set up in the downtown corridor. Motorists who have the misfortune of being caught on the roads when the Horn sounds will be rounded up and herded into Wahconah Park, where a Kangaroo Court will be set up to mete out virtual fines and virtual jail time, the Hon. Robert Keeshan presiding.
“These drills are meant to stress the importance of cooperating with the Democratic Party during a snowstorm,” according to the mayor’s nanny, Donna Mattoon. “Remember, weather is now political. We only want loyalists in this city.”
IN ANSWER TO OUR CORRESPONDENT’S QUESTION
Yesterday, one of THE PLANET’s correspondents asked what we thought was a fair and meaningful question. Sean wrote:
“The interesting thing, according to our correspondent, is that Wynn, sheriff Tom Bowler, and the mayor “are acting helpless in the face of this situation. Wynn shared a lot of information, but the take-away is that the city doesn’t have a clue on what to do about this cancer.”
How does one come to the conclusion that the (acting) Chief and Sheriff are helpless and don’t have a clue?
What was said exactly at that meeting that left your “correspondent”…. with the impression (to then report here) that local law enforcement is “helpless”?
Dan…..could you expand on this?
This is not your usual way of blogging.
We thought our response could be a teaching moment for all of us, PLANET included.
One, Two, Three …
First, remember that at the vast majority of public meetings, we have at least one correspondent (sometimes more) present. Over decades of local public commentary in print, on air, and in cyberspace, THE PLANET has recruited, developed, and maintained a large stable of “dime droppers.” We call these civic patriots The Secret Squadron, a name that hearkens back to the old Captain Midnight TV show (“Mudd, with two Ds.”). These men and women included ordinary citizens as well as those in elected or appointed positions in local government. In fact, you’d be shocked to learn who they were and what offices some of them hold.
Second, these sources will pass along accounts of meetings, gatherings, policy developments, and other areas of public interest. It’s a massive amount of material. Fortunately, we find it enjoyable to wade through this stuff, and from that, only a tiny portion sees the light of day, if only because we still have not perfected bilocation or found a way to increase the hours in a day. The rest is used as backgrounder.
Third, each report is subjective, a trusted source’s interpretation of what he or she saw, heard, or observed. We have developed a good method of cross checking so that, while no one is perfect in the news business, the vast majority of what we report and write can be considered reliable. While there’s no absolute guarantee in this business, we trust out sources.
That being said, we went back to our correspondent in this case — a person we shall call Gumdrop — and put to him/her Sean’s question. Here’s the answer we received:
“I didn’t mean to suggest they aren’t doing anything. The meeting covered various action items, most having to do with HS [Homeland Security] and relying on the federal government for help. They are doing stuff but they expressed frustration that the gangs etc. are winning [by attrition]. They nab one and two show up to take their place in a feeder system from NYC, Hartford, Springfield, and Albany. So it’s the frustration I meant to convey. [The police and sheriff] are feeling overwhelmed, [and] that’s the impression I got. The ‘helpless’ word came from one of Wynn’s top officers speaking for him. Actually, I am supportive of the job Wynn and the sheriff are doing. Both good men. I hope this helps.”
We think it does, Gumdrop. We thank you and Sean for your public service. Yes, a citizen asking a question performs a public service every bit as valuable as anything a councilor or mayor can do.
“In the oath of the sod, the lips that swore, / In the oath of the night mist, nothing at all, / A riddle is here no man tells, no woman.” — Carl Sandburg
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.