FINALLY: CATHOLIC RIGHT-WING FUNDAMENTALISTS GETTING A TASTE OF REASON, COMMON SENSE, AND TRUE ECUMENISM … POPE FRANCIS STARTLES TRADITIONALISTS AND DELIGHTS EVERYONE ELSE … HISTORICAL COMMISSION SEEKS DEMOLITION DELAY ON CRANE WAREHOUSE; COUNCIL FEELS BETRAYED BY SCALISE
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3, 2013) — Finally, a Holy Father who gets it.
After 50 years of fundamentalist initiatives coming out of Rome, especially during the increasingly regressive papacies of Karol Wojtyla and Josef Ratzinger, the Catholic Church seems to have a chief prelate determined to put a halt to the divisive efforts of his two predecessors to pummel Catholics back to the days of lace head coverings for women, wafers on the tongue, and sinful dare-not looks into other houses of worship. Praise God: It’s no longer 1958.
Pope Francis has riled the Catholic far right, a collection of evangelical, white-walled hypocrites who, in playing the Pharisaic role of prosecutor of God, have tried with tragic success to drive out the holy spirit in the Church. This group went charismatic in its early stages, harmless enough, but then forged an alliance with Southern white Baptists based on politics. The union created a new type of Catholic better fit for the Jim Crow south than the Church.
Here’s what we love about the new pope:
* In his first appearance as pope on the loggia at St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis refused to wear the ermine-trimmed red velvet cape (mozzetta), traditionally used by popes for such high occasions. Instead, he wore a simple white cassock. The mozetta has since been kept in the closet. This action spoke volumes. It told Catholics that Francis didn’t want the outmoded monarchical trappings of an office that has buried itself in liturgical nonsense at the expense of the authenticity of spiritual relevance.
* After his election, Francis paid his own hotel bill and took a bus to church instead of the papal Mercedes limo. There, he received the pledge of obedience from the College of Cardinals. He stood with them, face-to-face. He didn’t use the throne on a pedestal preferred by his predecessors, from which they looked down on everyone else. Francis joked with the cardinals, “May God forgive you [for what you have done.]”
* In an early theme to his papacy, Francis — or Bergoglio as he likes to be called, preferring his surname— has called for increased dialog with other religions, particularly Islam. He has pointed out that the way to God has many different paths. If this is “religious relativism,” as flummoxed fundamentalists fear, so be it. THE PLANET would point out that the word “relativism” is a diminutive of the root word “relate.” In an increasingly smaller world, people must begin to “relate” in a more profound, genuine manner based on common interest rather than divisive self-absorption.
* On Holy Thursday, Bergoglio took the foot-washing ceremony outside of the grand bombast of St. Peter’s and the Lateran in favor of a youth correctional facility. He didn’t stop there. In the jail during Mass, he washed the feet of 12 young people, including two women. In doing so, he deliberately violated Church law that restricted the rite to men only. This move sent shock waves throughout the Catholic right and delighted the rest of us loved. After he washed the girls’ feet and dried them, he kissed them. This gesture, more than any homily of dusty Church law, sent a message of inclusion for women and outcasts. In this action, Bergoglio “preached” Christ‘s gospel of love with a unambiguous and powerful gesture and not with the papacy’s typical overwrought and empty phrases.
* In another gesture of welcome change, Bergoglio refused the golden pectoral cross that Msgr. Guido Marini, the Vatican’s liturgy expert (a kind of liturgical master of ceremonies) offered to him. Instead, Francis said he would wear the same simple cross he wore as a bishop. An AP wire story described the significance of this action:
Francis also raised traditional eyebrows when he refused the golden pectoral cross offered to him right after his election by Monsignor Guido Marini, the Vatican’s liturgy guru who under Benedict became the symbol of Benedict’s effort to restore the Gregorian chant and heavy silk brocaded vestments of the pre-Vatican II liturgy to papal Masses.
Marini has gamely stayed by Francis’ side as the new pope puts his own stamp on Vatican Masses with no-nonsense vestments and easy off-the-cuff homilies. But there is widespread expectation that Francis will soon name a new master of liturgical ceremonies more in line with his priorities of bringing the church and its message of love and service to ordinary people without the “high church” trappings of his predecessor.
* During his Good Friday comments, Pope Francis praised “the friendship of our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
In short, while the papacy of Pope Francis has yet to unfold, we see in its nascent stages a deliberate attempt through word, gesture, and symbol to reverse the damaging retrogressive fundamentalist direction the Church had taken in the decades of recent years. There seems to be a bold attempt to make the Church relevant again.
That THE PLANET can dig.
COUNCILORS FEEL DUPED BY SCALESE ON CRANE WAREHOUSE PROJECT
“We were led along, I feel.”
That’s how our Right Honorable Good Friend Ward 2 city councilor Kevin Morandi expressed his feelings after Jim Scalise of SK Design pulled “the old switcheroo” on a one-story, brick warehouse at 899 Dalton Ave. The building, built in 1929, had been used by Crane & Co. as a warehouse. The building is now empty.
When Scalise first came before the city council, he asked for a zoning variance from residential to light industrial use, with the idea of developing the existing building. Councilors approved Scalise’s request on that basis, that is, on the assumption the building would be renovated and adapted to new use. Long after the fact, Scalise came back to councilors wanting permission to demolish the building.
Then came the switcheroo. Scalise later reneged, telling angry councilors that the building could have to be demolished because of “the economic considerations.” Morandi, Ward 1′s Chris Yon, Ward 3′s Paul Capitanio, Ward 4′s Chris Connell, Ward 7′s Tony Simonelli, and at-large Churchill Cotton each expressed outrage over the tricky dealing. The historical commission also weighed in, and it will try to place a moratorium on the demolition. The six councilors showed up to support the historical commission at the latter’s recent meeting. It was a powerful statement made by councilors, one that attracted much praise, including THE PLANET’s.
Council Should Not Accept Demolition
The city council has ever right to feel duped. It has been.
THE PLANET wonders if the council will pursue a more strident course to save the old warehouse. Councilors could likely make a strong case of malfeasance against Scalise. They trusted him, and now they feel betrayed. If they approved on the condition of the building’s reuse, they can in effect take back that approval to disallow the demolition.
There are some, including Jonathan Levine in the Pittsfield Gazette, who criticized councilors for approving a rezoning “based on one envisioned use.” That argument does not fly. The council approved the rezoning based on a “re-use,” that is, rehab of the existing structure. “Re-use” as opposed to “use” makes all the difference. When Scalise gave the council the impression the building would be rehabilitated, he was not restricting the rezoning “based on one envisioned use.” He did so based on the perpetuation of the existing building.
Tearing down historical buildings has been a story too oft-repeated in Pittsfield. It should not happen again. Granted, the old Crane warehouse isn’t in the same historical category as, as, the old “grand central” train station, but it nonetheless it was built during the year of the Stock Market Crash, contains an understated architectural classicism, and by it very age evokes the richness of history. Why tear down the lovely brickwork of craftsmen in favor of a sterile, antiseptic box, which is what they will put up in its place (evidence by Scalise’s emphasis on trimming costs).
Save it. Don’t demolish it. All things being equal, that is a wise guideline.
“If we are to have vision, we must learn to participate in the object of the vision. The apprenticeship is hard.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.