Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The fallibility of Benedict's infallibility

AS A CURIOUS SPECTATOR to the controversy surrounding Pope Benedict these days, I was led to my dictionary to look up the meaning of petty, as in Benedict's dismissal of the raging complaints against him as "petty gossip".
Petty - Of little or no importance or consequence.
Despite all of the stonewalling and immunizing that is emerging from the Vatican, there are a lot of angry folks who don't consider their claims of priestly pedophilia to be petty, no matter whatever Benedict's apologists might call it. Papal infallibility is not in good working order in this instance. And quite likely never has been since it was inserted into the script in 1870 by Pius IX.

As papal historian Garry Wills writes in his book Papal Sin, the pope called together bishops from around the world for the First Vatican Council with the shady motive of having him declared 'infallible". Fearing that a majority of the bishops would not be overly thrilled by the idea, Pius' minions rigged the vote to make it happen. Thus, in a flash, popes have been deemed infallible ever since. It's all right there in papal doctrine.

Among Benedict's legal schemes put up by his defense counsel is that he is shielded from a Kentucky case involving abused children because he is a "head of state". That sounds more like the 1870 papal gambit which, so far as I have read, was not petty gossip.

UPDATE: A reader sends along this quote by Catholic League president Bill Donahue, an insufferable defender of Benedict, who fumes: "It is a sad day when al-Qaeda suspects are afforded more rights than priests.

To which the reader asks: "And how many priests are in Gitmo, Bill?"


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