The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Sunday, February 23, 2003

The Pope has called for Catholics to fast on Ash Wednesday against war in Iraq.

Hows about a fast against child molestation? Against hush money? Against suppression of felony evidence?

Okay, I'll stop firing into the barrel. I was raised a Catholic and went to a Catholic school. We were taught by a few nuns, but they did not influence me as much as the principal, a squat, powerful Irishman in his fifties who grew up in Hell's Kitchen. (The stereotype of a principal is an ineffectual milquetoast. We were terrified of our principal.) The school was run on a shoestring budget; the teachers were underpaid and the principal showed up early every morning to do custodial work.

I am an atheist and have happily discarded Catholic dogma. What was instilled in me by my Catholic youth was a respect for the people and institutions of the church. I was furious when Sinead O'Connor tore up a picture of the pope, even though I had not been to church in years and did not believe in God.

Just as I never forsaw the day when Metallica would sue Indiana University for copyright violations, I could not have imagined 20 years ago that the people and institutions of the church would become a joke. Can water turn into wine? Is a tasteless wafer the body of Christ? I don't believe it but I could see giving a believer the benefit of the doubt. Is the Pope a force for peace? Don't make me laugh.



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