God’s Very Best Descend Upon the Vatican

Cardinals from around the world are jetting to Vatican City in their customary high style, to choose a new pontiff. And what a gaggle of splendiferous human beings it is!

[D]e­spite calls from many Catholics, [Pope Benedict] nev­er re­moved prelates who, court cases and doc­u­ments re­vealed, put chil­dren at risk by fail­ing to re­port pe­dophiles or re­move them from the priest­hood.

It is not that these car­di­nals be­haved so dif­fer­ent­ly from the oth­ers, or that they do not have achieve­ments to their names. It is just that they hap­pened to come from pin­points on the Cath­o­lic world map where long-hid­den se­crets be­came pub­lic be­cause vic­tims or­ga­nized, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials in­ves­ti­gat­ed, lawyers sued or the news me­dia paid at­ten­tion.

They in­clude car­di­nals from Bel­gium, Chile and It­aly. They in­clude the dean of the Col­lege of Car­di­nals, An­ge­lo So­dano, who is ac­cused of tak­ing large mon­e­tary gifts from a re­li­gious or­der, the Le­gion of Christ, and halt­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to its founder, the Rev. Mar­cial Ma­ciel — who was later ex­posed as a patho­log­i­cal abuser and liar.


They al­so in­clude car­di­nals re­viled by many in their own coun­tries, like Car­di­nal Sean Brady, the pri­mate of All Ire­land, who sur­vived an up­roar af­ter gov­ern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tions un­cov­ered en­demic cov­er-ups of the sex­ual and phys­i­cal abuse of mi­nors.

“There’s so many of them,” said Jus­tice Anne Burke, a judge in Il­li­nois who served on the Amer­i­can bish­ops’ first ad­vi­so­ry board 10 years ago. “They all have par­tici­pated in one way or an­other in hav­ing ac­tual in­for­ma­tion about crim­i­nal con­duct, and not do­ing any­thing about it.”

The conclave is stacked with staunch conservatives of considerably advanced years. That means the possibility that the next pope will stand for contrition and conciliation is about as big as the chance that he’ll celebrate his new title by performing The Vatican Rag in the middle of St. Peter’s Square.

Not that he’d pull it off quite as well as Tom Lehrer did.

[color image via Pilgrim’s Footsteps]