Falling to SentimentalityBecause I spent so many years as a Catholic, I can still fall prey to the sentimentality that a symbolic event such as a Pope visit can illicit. As an altar boy, I had dreamed of becoming the Archbishop or maybe even the Pope, so those childhood dreams are still rattling around in my my memory banks. I caught myself watching the feel-good Pope coverage and listening to testimonials by the faithful, so it did cause me to me to feel a bit nostalgic for my Catholic roots. This had happened to me before about the time when the Pope was originally installed.
A Bit of HistoryCoincidentally, a short time after that Pope Francis was named, I realized that the life-long emotional issues I had experienced were most likely related to the trauma of childhood sexual abuse by a priest. Given my fragile emotional state, I deferred to what was familiar and decided to visit the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and discuss my abuse with their Victim's Coordinator. For the first time ever, I disclosed to her that I was the victim of a priest who I had gone to in search of vocational counseling since I believed that I might want to pursue the priesthood. The result of that meeting was that the Victims Coordinator told me that the priest that had raped me had died and that I should pursue spiritual counseling, which she would be glad to provide. Being curious about the priest's death, I searched the internet and found that the perpetrator priest had in reality not died and because of this fabrication, once again I felt victimized by an official of the Catholic church who I had gone to seek advice from. I had been hopeful that a 'new' Catholic Church would magically be awaiting for me, with the installation of a new Pope, but I was definitely wrong.
Resisting that Which is Comfortable and FamiliarThe Catholic religion is full of ceremony and ritual and if you are indoctrinated in it, there is always a danger of falling back into its clutches because it's what you know and what you grew up with, even if you have been victimized by it. The Pope's visit was exactly that: one big performance of rituals and symbolic gestures that were mostly meant to persuade the millions of Catholics that have now become dormant to return to their roots and his charisma and humble charm even worked on me for a bit. He understands how powerful symbolism is and he used it at every opportunity during his visit to imply that the Catholic church was changing and that he would be a progressive leader, but unfortunately his symbolism does not match his actions. It is becoming clear to me that he is trying to use his stature and reputation to increase the number of total Catholics, since their numbers in America are decreasing according to a 2015 Pew Survey. He is doing little to to change those things that he could change, which is well documented in a National Catholic Reporter article from October 1, 2015. It reads in part:
"In matters of child sexual abuse, Pope Francis has no constitution, no Congress, no Senate and no Supreme Court that could restrain him from changing canon law. He has no obligation even to consult anyone. He is the last of the absolute monarchs.
He can take out his pen at breakfast, and write on his napkin an instruction to abolish the pontifical secret in cases of child sexual abuse and to order mandatory reporting everywhere. He can instruct it to be translated into Latin and to have it published on the Acta Apostolicae Sedis. It then becomes canon law."