Thursday, December 27, 2012
Forgiving the Pope
The Pope has been in the news this week. Not all that surprising with Christmas being celebrated around the globe. His Highness's high profile pardon made the bulk of the news coverage. According to CNN: “Pope Benedict XVI has pardoned his former butler, Paolo Gabriele, weeks after he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for leaking the pope's private papers.” The Pope’s visit to the prison and his forgiveness of a long trusted ally nicely echo’d the spirit of Christmas. The Pope even set up the Gabriele family with a new house and a stipend for the rest of his life. That loving gesture is applied far too selectively by his Emminence.
The Pontiff’s annual Christmas message to the world is one of the most important and listened to speeches of the year. Per the Huffington Post: “He dedicated [his Christmas message] this year to promoting traditional family values in the face of gains by same-sex marriage proponents in the U.S. and Europe. Benedict [said] the campaign for granting gays the right to marry and adopt children was an "attack" on the traditional family made up of a father, mother and children."
"People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given to them by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being," he said. "They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves."
The claim isn’t new, or all that original. The Pope said in his annual peace message that gay marriage, like abortion and euthanasia, was a threat to world peace.
As an Anglo-Catholic (the smells and bells part of the Episcopal Church) I attended a Parish that for many years regularly kept the Pontiff in our intercessions. As a person of faith I know that it’s treacherous to apply secular standards to religion. Human history is filled with the arguments and counter-arguments of Biblical interpretation. I’m no religious scholar. In fact had my grandmother not been sitting in the front row of the Catechism exam unconsciously whispering the answers I might never have been confirmed! I’m a person of faith, whether I can recite Bible selections or not.
The power of forgiveness lies at the essence of my Christian faith, and many faiths of the world. I can understand, respect and support Pope John Paul II who forgave the man who tried to assassinate him. Likewise Pope Benedict’s reprieve to his long-time confident makes sense to me on both a practical and a spiritual level.
Two people celebrating their love together is a rather traditional expression of feelings. Whether those people are of mixed heritage, same sex or different backgrounds matters little. Two souls coming together is the most beautiful and sacred experiences that there can be. Love is the essential foundation for forgiveness and love is the most natural characteristics of being human. Try as I might in my Libertarian-see-every-point-of-view philosophy, I am unable to comprehend how love is a threat. Love is the antidote to the world’s ills. My Solstice/Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanza/New Year prayer is for the power of love and forgiveness to trump fear and intolerance.