Monday, November 8, 2010

Interior columns of Basilica of Sagrada Familia.  This church seems to have a much more feminine feel than the usual Cathedral or Basilica.

Benedict just finished a week end trip to Spain where he continued his attacks on secularism and his re evangelization of Europe. I was going to write about this yesterday, but after reading this report from Austen Ivereigh, I had to....well not write.  After you are done reading that report, you have to read Bill Lyndseys' take....just for fun.

The following extract is from the Christian Science Monitor.  I chose to focus on this report because there is some interesting information in it not found in other articles. Certainly not Austen Ivereigh's.

“The renaissance of modern Catholicism comes mostly thanks to Spain. But it is also true that laicism, a strong and aggressive secularism was born in Spain, as we saw in the 1930s,” the Pope said on board his plane just before arriving in the northwestern coastal city of Santiago de Compostela. “This dispute is happening again in Spain today. The future of faith and the relations between faith and secularism have Spanish culture as its epicenter.” (No, not the future of faith, or the relations between faith and secularism,  but the future of Roman Catholicism.  All through out this trip Benedict conflated faith and God with Roman Catholicism. They are not the same.)

While officially consecrating Barcelona's Sagrada Familia church as a basilica on Sunday, the pope continued his push.

“The Church opposes all forms that negate human life and supports everything that supports the natural order in the realm of institution of the family,” he told the 6,500 people inside, almost a fifth of them from the clergy. (There really wasn't anything particularly 'natural' about the Holy Family.)

But the low turnout to see Benedict XVI on his second visit to Spain as pope seemed to illustrate his concern that Europe is shedding its Catholic roots. (Other articles talk about the 250,000 who turned out on the streets in Barcelona, but this number is way down compared to his and JPII's previous visits.)
Crowds of in the tens of thousands sometimes seemed to only slightly outnumber the vast security detail that closed off much of Spain’s second-biggest city, and many streets along the papal route were nearly empty. Also, small, unusual protests such as a gay "kiss-in" by couples as Benedict XVI waved from his vehicle drew the ire of loyal Catholic followers.

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia greeted the pope, were present in the consecration mass, and bid him farewell at the airport, but Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was conspicuously absent and only met the Catholic patriarch for a private meeting in the airport minutes before he returned to Rome...

....The fallout in relations between the current government and the Vatican, however, is not seen as a real challenge from the state. That would probably not be tolerated by a majority of Spaniards, analysts say.
Recent surveys show the number of practicing Catholics is dropping fast, to around 20 percent currently, mirroring a broader European trend, but the vast majority of Spaniards still declare themselves Catholics. And the Catholic Church has great perks here, starting with around $9 billion annually in different forms of direct and indirect government funds from tax revenue to financing of religious schools. The Spanish Church is the second biggest property owner in the country, trailing only the government(This should help explain why JPII and now Benedict enable and promote all the Spanish Catholics cults which have sprung up since Franco came to power.  Opus Dei, the Neo Cats and the Legionaries did not get where they are at in the Vatican because they prayed the rosary.)

Church defends its political perks

“Spain is a bastion of the Catholic Church in Europe. It doesn’t treat all religions equally. It has preferential treatment for the Church,” says Ferran Requejo, a political science professor in the Universidad de Barcelona. “Relations with the government have been cold for some time and the Vatican has been pushing to weaken the secular push.”

The Vatican has also been aiming to derail a government electoral promise to reform “religious freedom” legislation that is now broadly considered discriminatory against other faiths.
It has been indefinitely postponed, though, to avoid further alienating Catholics as the government is already facing massive discontent over the economic crisis. (And all along I thought this Papal attention was because the people were so faithful, but now I see it's really about money and power.)

Spain is not officially secular, as most western states are. Rather, it is legally neutral in terms of religion, implying it is a faith-based state. In practice that has translated into huge benefits for the Catholic Church that leaders from other religions, namely Muslims, Protestants, and Jews, say are unconstitutional because they are discriminated against when getting access to government aid and public space.
In Santiago, Benedict XVI met the leader of the main opposition Popular Party, Mariano Rajoy, who has promised to turn back secular laws passed by the Zapatero government if elected.


I would really appreciate it if I could take anything this Pope says or does at face value, but it would be folly in the extreme to do so.  Every thing this Vatican does is always, in it's core truth, about power and money.  If throwing gays to the wolves or advising women to die in childbirth will convince a certain mindset to follow the Church, that's great,  because that belief translates into political numbers.  It translates into non accountable, non transparent power for the hierarchy.  No surprise then, at least on a symbolic level, that Benedict starts his campaign to re evangelize Europe with photo ops with Europe's last few remaining monarchs.

The image I will retain from the dedication of the Basilica of Sagrada Familia is that of one thousand male clerics and 150 male bishops enacting this particular production from the theatre of the absurd, while eight women nuns clean the altar and re drape it. Eight women with bit roles as cleaners, 1150 clerics and one monarchical pope as the stars of the main show. And underneath all the theatrics the issue is not Jesus, it's power and money.  Male power and money.  The 'natural' way of the family.


  1. "Eight women with bit roles as cleaners, 1150 clerics and one monarchical pope as the stars of the main show."

    Oh, those lucky girls!!! So sorry I wasn't invited to clean up the slop they made all over the place!

    It is all so absurd and insane!

    Seriously. I was looking at a holy card with a picture of the black Madonna and the child Jesus on her lap which is on my desk here where I type and compose music. You know, the kind you get at a funeral home. It made me think how special her role was for so many years and all through Jesus' very short life. I believe Mary had a real cognitive as well as spiritual connection with her son. Her role was not just to carry Jesus in her womb, but more importantly to raise him up, teach him what she knew about God from her perspective, give him direction, inspire, play with, laugh with, talk with, enjoy and so many other things that a mother does besides clean up slop. Mary was a real woman, with feelings and emotions that touched her to the core of her being and Jesus was aware of her feelings. She wasn't some piece of plastic, wood or marble sculpture without a soul and a heart and a spirit. She was flesh and blood too and with virtues bestowed upon her by the grace and love of God for her willingness to have Jesus in the world to love.

    We call her the Mother of God. That means she is God's Mother. God has a mother, a mom. Jesus has a mom. The Holy Spirit must have a mom too. And these guys must think that the Holy Spirit ignores women and moms, doesn't see they have any other value other than to bear children and clean up slop while the boys pretend that the Holy Spirit has spoken to them, and them only. This is a fantasy.

    "The future of faith and the relations between faith and secularism...." Now here is what I see going on here: The Pope and his boys want what secularism has now - power. They want to create the world as they want it & fantasize it, not as God wants it. This is their war. This is the reason they do what they do. It truly has nothing to do with faith.

    They are, at least to my thinking, making a re-run of the past and still seeing as if they were in the past. The problem with that is that since they don't really operate in Faith in God, they don't therefore see reality too clearly or with any real substance or depth or perspective, so they choose the wrong side of things in darkness. Interesting the Pope brings up the 1930s because the world is at a similar juncture in my opinion. Too bad the Pope does not see clearly what he is doing. He really needs to wake up and for this I can only pray, because this is not the 1930s and there are a hell of a lot of nuclear weapons strewn all over the planet. Alls it would take is a few nut jobs to do us all in. If only Benedict and his boys would reflect upon the time we are living in and get real and get God.

    Never a dull moment in the Catholic theatre!

  2. I don't know much Spanish but your word verification is "Picate" which I understand to mean "Stick it" as in "Picate el culo". (Sorry if I offended anyone with that.)

    This is really weird Colleen, that's exactly what I was thinking about the arrogance displayed at the ceremony.

    So sad, so very sad that this sorry spectacle begins the dedication of a church dedicated to the holy family.

    Do these guys understand the importance of the story of Martha and Mary? Martha labored. Mary listened.

    Gaudi's vision of praise through architecture should not be diminished. It is a magnificent accomplishment.

    I'm going to start saving the word verification .gif files because sometimes I can't believe them myself.


  3. Butterfly, I'm with you on the comparisons to the 30's. We are not living in the 30's and glossing over the differences the way Benedict seems to is not intelligent. Makes me seriously wonder how many personal conflicts he has not resolved from his own youth.

    p2p I am really intrigued with Sagrada Familia. From some of the photos I've seen on the internet, they all seem too small to do it justice. I'd love to be able to experience it up close and personal.

  4. Somehow Benedict has tainted this architecture for me personally. It must have cost a fortune to make this. They could have made something on a smaller scale that would probably be a more intimate space, or even made several parish Churches instead of this monstrosity. I have no desire to see it because it is probably tainted with a lot of blood money. Sorry folks. That's how I feel about it. No disrespect to the artist / architect or workers or craftsmen intended.

  5. @ butterfly,

    No insult taken. We have our differences and ours is a respectful dialog.

    Have you ever been in a great European cathedral? I've been to Bath, which is absolutely beautiful, all air and light with columns soaring heavenward. The acoustics are awe inspiring. It may not be intimate but it is magnificent. Even so there are intimate little chapels in the Bath Abbey. I loved this one: (It isn't my photo, just one found on the internet.) You get a sense of the size of this chapel based upon the chairs.

    Chartres Cathedral is quite magnificent in another way. It is darker than Bath as the windows are meant to be read. It is a "catechism in stone" and glass.


    Both of these cathedrals have intimate areas within the structure. Pilgrims to Chartres may enter the labyrinth and although it is not physically separate from the rest of the church it seems so. Maybe Colleen would like to comment as the labyrinth has long been considered a center of spiritual energy, even predating the church.

  6. @ Colleen,

    I just read the 2008 article someone commented on recently. At the end you comment that you have been paying attention to words and explain the meaning of "palin".

    I had no idea that this was something you followed but now I understand a little bit more why I immediately felt comfortable here.


  7. Paul, one of the very first things I understood about the 'greater reality' in which we swim is that puns and names--especially names which are puns like Palin--are one way of getting messages through to us in a non threatening manner.

    Fear is the killer in exploring the greater reality, which is why Jesus always said "Peace be with you, or be not afraid". This tended to happen directly after His presence blew the Apostles out of the mental comfort zone.

  8. Well Irish girl,

    I am small.


  9. p2p, to whom are you referring to as "Irish girl?"

    Why do you say you "feel small" Paul?

    LOL! Here's another good word verification:


  10. The more I think about the Segrada Familia I think of it as the RCC's version of Disney World.

  11. No, p2p, I've never been to Europe.

    Thanks for the links. I enjoyed the pictures of Bath immensely.

  12. @ butterfly

    Well... "a colleen" is an "irish girl". Colleen got that. What you didn't know but the colleen did, is that my name is Paul. It means small.

    @ butterfly

    If Gaudi is as good as I think he is then you will not have a "Disney" experience. After all, the Disney experience is not real. The Disney castle was inspired by the real "Neuschwanstein".

    Really good ecclesiastical architecture from the smallest, most intimate chapel to the most magnificent gothic cathedral should evoke the feeling of being in a holy place.

    I hope you can have the experience of an artistically beautiful building that contributes to your feeling of spirituality. Please don't think I'm prefer rococo, or baroque over the simplicity of a Shaker prayer room. Whatever inspires prayer, meditation, reflection, and worship, will do.


  13. Thanks Paul, p2p. I thank you so much for your response. I've been very busy with my work so this short note will have to suffice for now. I will have to look up some names. I believe my name, Frances, means Free, but not sure.