Over at The House That Joe Built, the kids are in a snit over comments made by His Excellency Angelo Bagnasco, the Archbishop of Genoa.
Bagnasco, head of the archdiocese that gave us salami, and also the newly appointed head of the Conference of Italian Bishops, rather lumps gay marriage in with incest and pedophilia, implying that these things are all swimming about in the same fetid water retained by floodgates Jesus would never open.
As usual, Joe’s readers miss the point of Roman Catholicism as practiced by Italians, including their hierarchy. Harumphery is not to be taken seriously. It’s been decades, if not centuries, since anyone in Italy actually took anything said by a pope, cardinal or bishop seriously. Wisdom and empathy are not expected. Tradition is the expected product, and the only product the Roman Catholic Church in Italy has to offer. In fact, there was an ongoing feeling of amusement in the Vatican over Americans’ hand-wringing regarding the artificial birth control prohibition, for example. An Italian woman might confess such a thing, if indeed she was among the few who utilize that sacrament, but she would certainly not try to make sense out of the prohibition, nor would she lose sleep over her “sinful” actions, nor would she throw away her pills, nor would an Italian priest in the confessional do more than prescribe a drowsy five “Hail Marys” as penance.
Also, four years in the Vatican taught me that most of the men who rose to positions of power did not seem to be tormented by sex. Celibacy seemed easy for them. Perhaps they were undersexed. I don’t know. They would joke about sexual activity in the same way that they would joke about Africans or aboriginal Australians or Mexicans, all of whom they found curious and funny. I, one of the youngest guys to walk those gilded halls in those days, was prevailed upon for sex by only one high ranking official (although there were a few more who made it clear that they wanted sex but were too careful to ask for it.) Sex was not the currency of the Vatican in the last half of the twentieth century. Organizational power was, and still is. The idea is to form alliances and trusts with older Vatican officials and to hope that you’ve placed your bets on the right horses. (Unfortunately for me, my horses died sooner than expected! Now, some of my friends from those days are the new potentates, and I am cheered by their ascensions.) That is why Archbishop Bagnasco says what he says possibly without believing it himself. He’s got to warble the corporate anthem for one outstanding reason: Genoa always has its own Cardinal. Bagnasco will soon swap the amaranth robes of an archbishop for the scarlet ones of a cardinal as long as he doesn’t rock the boat. He’ll get the red hat next time B16 (The Holy Father) makes a batch of new ones.
Meanwhile, there is no need to find all this too distressing. Here are some photos that give us hope. Here’s B16, demonstrating his fondness for glitter while waving the papal glow stick at the recent Black Party (She obviously got tired of waiting in line at the coat check).
And here we see an American bishop pausing to breathe in the vapors of a papal “sample” before indulging in some water sports. It’s true: B16 pisses like a racehorse.