The script reads as follows: Cheech and Chong win a free trip to Italy. While traveling, the old Pope resigns and a new Pope gets picked. The two dope heads somehow stumble into the Vatican. When the new Pope finally gets chosen, white smoke is traditionally released to the crowd gathered outside in Saint Peter’s Square, and a billion cheering worshipers watching worldwide.
Cheech and Chong. White smoke. You can pretty much figure out the rest.
At least the plot for “Cheech and Chong Visit the Vatican” would make sense.
But nothing makes sense in Catholicism.
* * *
Catholics are in a state of denial, which is nothing new. This has been a recurring problem ever since — oh, let’s see — around the year 624.
It took centuries to finally end the senseless torturing of hundreds of thousands of innocents during the Inquisition. It took centuries to put a stop to the Crusades which sought to convert the conquered at the point of a sword. It took centuries to save so-called heretics from being burned alive at the stake. So why would anyone think the Catholic Church is now finally ready to turn over a brand new fig leaf and join the 19th Century, let alone the contemporary world of 2013? The church still conducts services in Latin, for Crissakes.
To this day, most my family are practicing Catholics. I attended Catholic School (Holy Trinity in the Oak Lawn section of Dallas) — the same school run by the priest who gave President Kennedy last rights. I attended mass regularly (strong emphasis on the past tense). I was a member of the Knights of Columbus. I once played on the church soccer team, which was called the “Crusaders” (seriously). My Godfather graduated from the University of Notre Dame. That’s as Catholic as it gets.
But over the years, I’ve gradually come to see the Catholic Church for what it truly is — an archaic, oppressive, lying institution that’s hopelessly out of touch with 21st Century realities, which destroys millions of lives around the world and has done unspeakable evil throughout human history.
The excesses stem not just a few bad apples. The root cause is institutional corruption. In Catholicism, according to Canon Law, everything flows downward from the very top. This means the Vatican ultimately bears responsibility for crimes against humanity.
Strong words? Hardly. If anything, those words aren’t strong enough.
The Roman Catholic Church remains wielded to the Dark Ages. And its not just because a bunch of men chose to walk around in black robes speaking a dead language that went out of existence 500 years ago while waving containers full of ash dust, or nuns suppressing their own individuality in observance of unconditional servitude.
Look at the facts: Catholic policies towards women are degrading. Catholic commandments on birth control creates imminent poverty for millions who starve and die in developing countries. Catholic beliefs toward basic human rights are often are cowardly and self-serving. Catholic teachings on sex are Neanderthal. Catholic practices on economic and social issues are reprehensible. And Catholic teachings on so-called “morality” are duplicitous.
All this aside, the Catholic Church’s policies and practices in the tens of thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of sexual abuse scandals around the world involving priests is downright disgusting. Many heads need to roll — starting with just about every Pope dating all the way back to the 4th Century. Indeed, the Vatican has been a collaborator in innumerable crimes and cover ups since the fall of the Byzantines.
The Catholic Church is an empire of corruption. This has nothing to do with matters of faith or a belief in God. It has everything to do with making the appropriate choices as to which institutions in our society deserve our reverence and trust.
The Catholic Church and the Vatican deserve neither.