Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Ultimate Ironies, beginning with Kierkegaard

In his diary, Soren Kierkegaard wrote one of the most ironic lines in all of Christian theology: "In the splendid Palace Church a stately court chaplain, the declared favorite of the cultivated public, shows himself to a select circle of distinguished, cultivated persons and preaches a moving sermon on this word by the Apostle: 'God chose the lowly and despised.' And nobody laughs."

Remembering Kierkegaard's lines, I began thinking of other phases from Scripture equally ironic to the context of the Vatican's failure to address that church's failure to take any appropriate action against those priests who have raped our children and the bishops and archbishops who have abetted that. Here is my list so far:

Ascending to the pulpit before the great crowds in St. Peter's Basilica on a Sunday morning in his gold embroidered cope and mitre and his elegantly red Prada slippers, Pope Benedict removed his mitre, looked lovingly over the assembled faithful and began his sermon on the text from Mark 10:14, "Suffer the little children to come unto me. . ." and no one vomited, no one rushed the pulpit.

As he was reading from the day's appointed Scripture to the solemn gathering of the wizened old men who comprised the College of Cardinals, Pope Benedict passed quickly over verse 42 of the ninth chapter of Mark's Gospel, "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea." The sound of old men either winking or shifting about in their velvet covered sedallias was deafening.


Over and over again, Jesus sets a child in front of the religious authorities of his day and tells them that this child represents the Kingdom. So when one of the church's priests desecrates the child, what are we to say about his regard for the Kingdom of God? Is the word "anti-Christ" appropriate? If so, what are the words or phrases for an organization which protects the anti-Christ?

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