I was changing the ropes in my eighty-year old two-sash window the other night. The old ropes were rotten, and without them the window would not open or if it did would not stay open. But from the outside you couldn't see the rotten ropes. The window looked quite functional.
The Catholic Church under Pope Ratzi and Hiz Boyz is similar. The Church doesn't look dysfunctional but it is. And the dysfunctional bit is under that fancy miter hat. It needs changing, desperately.
Here is why: A few days ago the Pope expressed his anger at the Belgian police:
In a sign of sharply rising tensions between the Vatican and Belgium, Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday criticized as "surprising and deplorable" a raid on church property last week by Belgian police officers investigating sexual abuse by clerics.
In an exceedingly rare personal message and rebuke of a sovereign country, the pontiff also stressed the church's "autonomy" to conduct its own investigations and criticized the "deplorable methods" of the Belgian police, who detained bishops, confiscated files and even drilled into the tombs of at least one cardinal in the Cathedral of Mechelen, north of Brussels, in a search for documents.
"On several occasions I have personally reiterated that such serious issues should be attended to by both civil and canon law, with respect for their reciprocal specificity and autonomy," Benedict said in a statement circulated by the Vatican on Sunday.
Pay attention to his tone, to how he demands reciprocal specificity and autonomy, how he is angry at the way his boyz are being treated.
Then here's Ratzi more recently:
The pope handed one of the most powerful jobs in the Vatican to a cardinal who said recently that abortion was wrong, even in cases of rape.
The reshuffle also saw a senior prelate moved from the institution that helps frame the Catholic church's "pro-life" doctrines after he appeared to question the announcement by another archbishop that the mother of a child rape victim had removed herself from the church by arranging for her daughter to terminate her pregnancy.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella was transferred to head a new department charged with stemming the advance of secularisation, particularly in Europe.
It is the appointment of Cardinal Marc Ouellet, however, that is likely to arouse most controversy. As prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Ouellet, until now the archbishop of Quebec and primate of Canada, will be responsible for drawing up shortlists from which the pope decides who is to get a bishop's mitre.
The prefecture is often regarded as the third most important job in the Vatican administration since its incumbent can prevent even the most gifted priest from rising to a position of leadership in the church. Ouellet has in the past been touted as a successor to Benedict.
This year, Ouellet provoked what the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation termed a "firestorm of criticism" when he told an anti-abortion conference in Quebec City that terminating a pregnancy was a "moral crime" even in rape cases. He said he understood that a sexually assaulted woman should be helped and her attacker held accountable. "But there is already a victim," he said. "Must there be another one?"
Note how some victims (priests and embryos) matter so much more than other victims (everybody else), how autonomy is not something a raped woman or child can ever expect to have and how very serious the consequences of Pope Ratzi's woman-hatred can be for the whole church. We could have decades of woman-hating bishops just because of him.
This is a church which explicitly bars women from all real power. I find it utterly astonishing that we regard such an organization a valid participant in the discussions about rape, child abuse and the question of women's reproductive rights.