The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Alois Ratzinger) becomes final Thursday. After meeting with the cardinals, he departs via helicopter to the papal retreat south of Rome. His abdication of the papacy, however, pales in comparison to his abdication of the truth in the issue of molestation within the church. His legacy will be forever tainted for his abject failure in addressing and attempting to right this terrible wrong. Shame on him.
My poem below, “The Cathedral of Shame” underscores the lingering pain and shame of those who fell victim to this horrific sexual scourge within the Church. Try as they might, many have tried to return to the fold, but until these crimes are fully owned by the papacy, most of these efforts at reconciliation will become epic and painful fails. Perhaps the next Pope will possess the courage Ratzinger lacked, and will take ownership of the Vatican’s complicity in these sordid crimes against youth. Let’s hope so, because, until they do, the abuse of the body will only be compounded further with the abuse of denial.
The chances are slim, however, that any meaningful redress will arrive with the new pontiff. This is, after all, an institution that took hundreds of years to issue what ultimately amounted to a lukewarm apology for the Great Inquisition, and has yet to take any responsibility for the bloody atrocities of the Crusades. Let’s hope that the addition of the Age of Molestation doesn’t replace the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost with the aforementioned Trinity of Complicity.
Cathedral of Shame
It was never my intent to return to this place
dark halls of betrayal, and lacking in grace
Lustful intentions, like geysers of steam
scald memories ‘neath mahogany beams
Yet I come on this day to recapture my soul
To quiet the screams now three decades old
Black flowing robes with collars of white
Incensed chambers to the left and the right
The bones of saints litter this brothel of sin
While confessions absolve the evils of men
The innocent novice here silently cries
Behind red velvet ropes of cardinal lies
Like lambs sacrificial to the altar are led
While the pure hearts of angels are quietly bled
I kneel before God, but my prayers silent fall
In the shadow of Christ in this candlelit hall
The peace that I seek here doesn’t exist
Where the holiest men refuse to resist
Hail Virgin Mary, full of sweet grace
Help me to rise and get out of this place