Jesus was not splendid


Humble? Yes. Loving us all, pagan and Catholic alike? Absolutely. The trouble with the show Vatican Splendors at the Minnesota Historical Society is that it Papparazzies several centuries of Popes and reduces Jesus to a queer figure bragging at Emmaus that he’s already resurrected from the dead and is now fixing to ascend to Heaven when he can teach his dozen apostles how to fish men instead of Sea of Gallilee marine creatures. Splendor is not what Christianity is all about. It’s about moral behavior between men and women who love each other because Jesus set them a good example. The building of St. Peter’s gives the game away.

Luther, the Augustinian monk, broke from the church because of its corrupt selling of indulgences amongst other evils. Think of how many zillions of corrupt indulgences it took to finance St. Peter’s, that Counter Reformation ploy to assure Catholics that things were O.K., in spite of Luther and his followers. Things weren’t all right and still aren’t—think of the current Pope’s evil judgment to forbid Hans Kung, his closest friend in the theology faculty at Tubingen University to teach theology because he believed in Liberation Theology (basically a moral plea to return the Church to its original commitment to comforting the poor instead of building imposing buildings and sporting fancy chasubles).

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Ratzinger who pretends to be pious and saintly but has always been a climber flunked Kung to please Pope John Paul II because it reminded the Polish Pope of the Communism he fought all his life. Liberation Theology was never communistic as the Papacy now belatedly concedes since the Roman Catholic bishop of Asuncion, Paraguay was not defrocked as of yore when he ran for and was elected President on a Lib Theo platform. Two non-infallibilities in a generation!! Ahem.

But the Press Lady at the MHS told me they expect 150,000 visitors! At twenty dollars a soul, that’s 3 million bucks for dazzling half truths! Not bad, fiscally. But Jesus would despise it! It’s mainly about Papal Power but doesn’t tell the hidden truths about the current hype-ocrat sitting on the Holy See. He spouts piety but plays politics endlessly, and not very effectively—judging with his gaffes over Islam. We can learn a lot at this exhibit about its raw brute power over the centuries—as in the attack Roman Emperor Charles V made when he attacked the Vatican less than a century after the Protestants began their Revolution. But this superficial exhibition tells us much more about Swiss Guard uniforms than the Real Politik involved. It’s Comic Strip History—for grade school kids.

But there are new angles that this ex-Catholic who spent from age 3 to 13 at the Holy Rosary Academy in Bay City, Michigan. There the German Dominican nuns ingrained the true Jesus in my soul—as I have fought racism and greed all my life. I even studied to be a priest at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit (1941-43) until the Rector, Monsignor Donnelly, found Jim Van Slambrouck and me smoking cigarettes in the Gothic Tower after midnight.

“What are you two doing here?” he asked. My smart ass rhetorical question got me the boot at Easter: ”We’re trying to use Chesterfields, Monsignor. Any suggestions?”

No Resurrection for me that year!