Sunday, April 10, 2005


Yesterday (Saturday) we went to the annual flower show/market in Marsciano. Rain had been predicted, but the skies were still in the threatening mode as we drove down the hill. Art wanted to stop in at Corinna and Maurizio’s house to see if they might like to go to the flower show with us.

Corinna answered the door, and invited us in. We told her why we were there, but I said that by the looks of the front yard, they had already been busy planting. She said yes, and took us to the backyard where they’ve planted a wonderful assortment of perennials and herbs. The wonderful thing about this backyard is that a nice sized, raised bed stretches across it…no more stooping to plant, weed or harvest!

They had planted two trees in the side yard. One was a maple of some sort, and it was leafing out nicely. The other tree, a weeping cherry, apparently had not been happy at all, and appeared to be dead. Corinna said that she has no green thumb, but I told her that even the best of gardeners have their failures, and that there’s usually at least one plant that for whatever reason just doesn’t seem to thrive. Even if the soil and the sun are right, some plants just seem to have a mind of their own, and have to be moved…or thrown away.

We had a glass of wine and some cheese with Corinna and she told us about her trip on Wednesday to see the Pope. She stood in line for seven long hot hours, but in the end she had to drive back home. She just wasn’t prepared to sleep in the street overnight, and that’s what would have been necessary in order to see the Pope on Thursday.

We discussed the Pope, the Church, and the plusses and minuses. Corinna is not pleased with the (archaically) traditional role that the Church still expects women to play. We told her about the scandals and trials of the past few years concerning priests and young boys. Needless to say, this topic received very little press in Italy, and she was quite surprised to hear about how widespread and long term this problem was (and probably still is).

I think this is one area in which the Pope greatly disappointed many people in the United States. The fact that the situation took so long to get under control, and the fact that it had been going on FOR YEARS…with the knowledge of the hierarchy of the Church…made a sad situation even more so.

To feel as if your Church has abandoned you, or to feel as if saving face is more important than you are must be a bitter pill to swallow. To see some of the priests treated as if they had done nothing wrong (i.e. the guy from Massachusetts who was transferred to Rome instead of going to prison where he belonged) was a slap in the face of those people who are the very foundation of the church.

It’s been many, many years since I’ve considered myself a Catholic, but I still feel a sense of shame and disappointment at how these victims were treated. I realize that John Paul was a very traditional Pope, but I still can’t imagine why he didn’t address these problems much sooner, why he didn’t strip the guilty priests of their duties, and why he didn’t reach out to the victims in a very public way. With all the good that he has been credited with, and all the millions of people who paid homage to him this past week, I just don’t understand…am I the only person who is disturbed by the handling of that situation?

For those who were victimized by some sicko priest, I’m guessing that this is the standard by which they will judge their church, and that despite all the good that John Paul may have done, it is this situation which will define their feelings. For years these victims were ignored, ridiculed, ostracized, and blamed for the evil-doing of others. The Church should condemn the perpetrators and embrace the victims. For many of the victims, even if this were to happen, it would probably be too little too late. What a shame. Your church should be your source of comfort, not the cause of your pain.


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