“Tragically, corruption in the Roman Curia — whether actual corruption or the more banal kind, like bureaucratic ineptitude and Balkanization — is as old as the Curia itself. Benedict tried mightily to reform the Curia, only to be stymied by bureaucratic trench warfare. If Francis could even marginally improve things, it would be a great legacy. “
Pascal –Emmanuel Gobry
This blog entry is not about religion, but about change.
Pope Francis has now been in office for over two years. He has set sail in a new direction of Curia house cleaning, and pastoral restoration. I want to talk about the changes, the before and after of Pope Francis, and his achievements since he came to the Papacy.
In my poem, The Pope and the Cardinal, ( copyright, 2014), I talk of the historical corruption in the Catholic church, using a tongue in cheek approach, and writing in the style of the Owl and the Pussycat, by Edward Lear.
I talk of embezzlement and the hypocrisy within the Curia, and end the poem, (quoted later in this blog,) by saying that Pope Francis has “Set sail in a different direction, to be clear and transparent and form a connection with regular folk… ” and indeed he has.
As a non-Catholic, I have watched with curiosity, and surprising approval with the way he has conducted himself and his Papal duties. I have started a sequel to the original poem, which will encompass his achievements and complete the "Vatileaks" story.
Immediately after being elected, Pope Francis has set about changing the image of the Papacy, tarnished by years of scandal.
So, I will precis the list of achievements that he has made, and then illustrate the “BF.”, (before Francis era), as opposed to the “AF.” era, with my Poem.
One of the first things that Pope Francis did was to insist on frugality in the church. He set an example to all by opting to live in a spare apartment next to St Peter’s Basilica, as opposed to the traditional Apostolic Palace. He wears simpler Vestments, and has tended to not wear the enormous and decorative hats and jeweled robes. He created a Secretariat for the Economy, to address waste and fraud, and threatened to shut down the Vatican Bank unless they showed more transparency. He cut the bonuses usually paid to the Vatican employees upon the election of a new Pope, and sacked the German Bishop who reportedly spent over $40,000,000 on a new residency. In 2014, he used his Christmas speech to decry excess, vanity and greed.
Francis has made significant changes to address the sex abuse that has been rampant in the Catholic Church for millennia. He set up an eight member committee to advise him, has defrocked several bishops, and has met with the victims of sex crimes.
He has denounced human trafficking, calling it a “disgrace and a crime against humanity. “
“Human Trafficking is an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity “
Pope Francis has reversed the traditional Papal course of thinking about a number of controversial issues, including Homosexuality, abortion and divorce.
In an interview where he was asked his stance on Homosexuality, he responded with the question, “If someone is gay, and searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge? “
While he remains anti-abortion, he has surprised Catholics, by allowing priests to grant forgiveness to women, (which is certainly a step in the right direction from than the previously practiced excommunication.)
By challenging the Synod of Bishops, he has revised the rules on marriage annulment, and made it easier for Catholics to divorce and remarry.
He has tentatively addressed climate change, and made it clear that it is a threat to both the Catholic Church and the Earth, by issuing a 184 page report on how environmental issues put the poor of the world at risk.
He has addressed the migrant crisis in Europe, and taken in several families to the Vatican. He sent a message to the world, encouraging parishes to take in at least one migrant family, and asked for compassion towards those in need of shelter.
He has broken tradition in the ritual of foot washing on a Thursday, by including women, Muslims, and prisoners in this humble ministry, and has advocated for interfaith dialogue between Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders.
So far, Pope Francis has shown that he intends to continue to set a new compass for the course of the Vatican ship, and that is a huge step in the right direction in my opinion.
"Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is good... Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place." Pope Francis
"We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love.
Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded, and preach peace."
The Pope and the Cardinal, by Susan Golden, Copyright 2013
From the author, "Reader's discretion advised"
This Ballad is based on true facts, tho' disguised
As, "Loosey and Goosey," from our feathered friends
A disclaimer is issued for how the tale ends
It mimics the style of Ed Lear and Carol
And exposes the Vatican over a Barrel
The Pope and the Cardinal went to sea
In a beautiful fish-shaped boat
They took some gold, and riches untold,
Wrapped up in a Lira note
The Pope at the helm began to bless and to pray
He flung incense and pomp o'er the bow
The fledglings got bored and started to play
While the Pope, blessed by God, took his vow
They sailed away into History and haze
To the land of the Dodo's precinct
They partied and drank, till the boat almost sank
And the masses were all hoodwinked, hoodwinked
And the Dodos became extinct
The ship was a fortress of uncommon might
With Cockerels and Roosters all ready to fight
Females excluded to keep the deck chaste
Yet Sparrows eluded to wide- spread debase
They hoarded their assets with cunning and stealth
They lived double lives and amassed lots of wealth
Absolute power became Papal norm
The supreme judge and legislator was born
Said the Finch to the Pope, "you Clerical folk
You're clever to sever all ties
You are now quite supreme, with your catachismic scheme
"Don't ask,don't tell",and your lies."
"I hear talk said the Hawk," as they sailed through corruption
Let’s double our standards without interruption!
"Cronyism is King", as he kissed the Pope's ring
And stooped with a glint in his eyes, his eyes
And bowed like a priest in disguise
The debauchery thrived, and sailed in full throws
There were Twitters concerning a murder of crows
with escorts unnamed, the factions untamed
And Hippocrates wearing priests clothes, priests clothes
And Hippocrates wearing priest's clothes
Then a well-meaning Warbler let Tweet from his tongue
"The Cuckoo was witnessed molesting it's young!"
The flock it fell silent, and surrounded the fowl,
who showed no remorse, with a sulk and a scowl,
They disguised him in feathers to look like a Pheasant,
And he skulked away, smelling clean and quite pleasant
All this deflected from crime and oppression
The meaning of God, and the time for confession
Instead they were tempted with selfish advancement
Without a concern for spiritual enhancement
Said the Duck to the Drake, "This Kirk's on the make"
"The boat's rife with corruption and scandal"
The Drake quacked and bowed, "No females allowed,"
It was more than the old Drake could handle
For all this corruption and Papal demise
The Emperor's clothes, too real for his eyes
The Butler he leaked and went for the Scoop
The old Pope he balked and flew out the coop
All this disillusion, confusion, his church,
He took a step towards heaven, and fell off his perch
The bank it froze assets for laundering washing
The boat was exposed for its' evidence squashing
So a crisis ensued and the boat went off course
An investigation was launched and a Papal Task-force
Eighteen birds testified, each from the inside
Some conflicted, evicted, and no one could hide
So after informants went to the Press
There was pressure from high up to clean up the mess
A new Pope was chosen to take to the Helm
The chimney belched white smoke to smudge out the Realm
Pope Francis set sail in a different direction
To be clear and transparent and form a connection
with regular folk who need love and affection
He's dredging the mud from the Holy Sea
To reclaim the Curia's honesty
He put down the keel to keep the boat steady
Some offending flock are defrocked already
And more heads will roll as he searches his soul
And he resets the compass for the Papal role
So here lies the end of this Vatileaks tale
The Cardinal's role has now passed to the quail
The scene ends with Pope Francis facing into the Gale.......
If you enjoyed this poem, and would like to read more of my work, you may download my illustrated and narrated i Book "The Moon of Compassion" at the following link.
(A free sample is available, but the poems are not complete, and the audio is not available in the free sample. )
Have a wonderful week.