Once again I have good reason to borrow from the too-soon-departed atheist and writer extraordinaire Christopher Hitchens, this time, ironically, with Christians on my mind: “I devoutly believe words ought to be weapons. That is why I got into this business in the first place. I don’t seek the title of ‘offensive,’ which I think is one of the nastiest things that could be said about an individual writer.”
The Most Reverend Robert Rivas is not a writer. At any rate, not by profession, so far as I know. Nevertheless, his job demands of him a special appreciation for the power of words. I suspect he would not deliberately put to paper information that depended for its meaning solely on the prejudices of readers.
Hard as I’ve tried, still I cannot imagine the archbishop would sit down at his desk and calculatedly compose references to a fellow cleric that would cast him in the most unflattering light before the eyes of his parishioners, his friends and unbelievers, not to say those convinced the Catholic Church can do no good.
As for callously creating room for doubt in the minds of the faithful, well, how far could that be from Satanic? Judging by all I’ve read from the office of the archbishop, I have formed the impression that Rivas approached his writing with careful deliberation.
He obviously is nobody’s fool. Unless of course you believe stupid defines all popes-in-waiting. Rivas, like the rest of the world, is too conscious of the suffocating atmosphere that surrounds the Catholic Church. It is highly unlikely the archbishop would recklessly have tossed around words further to complicate things. A politician of sorts he may be—but nothing like those we know best.
If faithful friend Gilbertha St. Rose truly wished to cleanse the mephitic air around the issue at hand, if she and her sometimes hysterical posse wanted it known that a lamb of God had been sacrificed without good reason, then the good lady could’ve done so simply by stating the facts that had delivered a sword into the hands of his cassocked butchers.
She was lately all over the media, excusing her late appearance on the scene and crying about how unfair had been the treatment of her friend. But not once did she expose the wrong that had been visited upon his head, let alone the wrongdoers, so the faithful and faithless alike might’ve judged for ourselves.
Meanwhile, we are left to base our conclusions on rumors that an unpriestly priest had referred to a parishioner as “a male prostitute” and for that Rivas had withdrawn him “from his pastoral ministry,” sent him away to undergo rehabilitation, not to mention spiritual reupholstering unavailable here. Whatever happened to punishment to suit the crime?
C’mon, fellow VAT-crazies! So a human priest uses words not normally considered holy. Surprise, surprise! For that he is separated from his ministry? For that he is required to undergo interrogation by another priest whose specialty is investigating “allegations of sexual abuse and inappropriate behavior on the part of clerics?”
By the way, wouldn’t it have sufficed simply to say the last mentioned individual dealt with “inappropriate behavior” by priests? Why also mention “allegations of sexual abuse?” Why not one or the other? Is sexual abuse not inappropriate behavior?
And now the published words of Rivas have created an unholy storm, why hasn’t the archbishop cleared the air? The answer may not be pretty but obvious it is: the archbishop sees no good reason to undo what by his measure needed to be done. Besides, is there in the Good Book and manuals of the Catholic Church anything to prevent a priest from telling God’s truth, even in his own defense?
Interesting to note: In last Saturday’s STAR I referred to a priest who had impregnated two nuns while shacking up at their cloister—contrary to papal directives. There has not been a related reaction, neither from the church nor from its followers!
In all events, whatever criticisms we may wish to level at Rivas, I doubt very much there’s reason to include an inability to communicate his thoughts with precision. Otherwise, who would trust what he says is gospel, whether or not from his pulpit?