Thursday, November 4, 2010

Benedict's Spanish Lesson.

How Spaniards perceive Catholicism has evolved over the centuries. Spain a monarchy with a Socialist Prime Minister was a bastion of Catholicism during the Protestant Reformation in Europe. The saying was “What was lost in Europe was regained in Latin America.” Spain itself was born as a nation due to a eight century long religious war “La Reconquista” that reclaimed the Iberian peninsula from Islam.

Spain is an illustration of what happens when you make any religion “The State Religion.” The old adage that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is not limited to the secular sphere. What was initially the religious zeal of Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross, soon devolved into the Spanish Inquisition. The Church became a department of the state and theological beliefs became a matter of national law and security. Sound familiar?

In the Twentieth century all of this boiled to the surface. A Civil War followed by decades of unrest in Spanish society only began to heal after the death of Generalissimo Franco and the introduction of authentic democracy in Spain. Perhaps the most striking difference between Spanish and American societies is that the former had a State Religion and Inquisition and the latter desires both.

The remnants of centuries of State Catholicism will greet Benedict XVI when he visits Barcelona. The Spanish have planned a same-sex kissing event to protest Benedict’s visit. They are offended at Benedict’s attempts to cast the Church as the final authority in Civil Marriage laws.

A university professor of Spanish removed his glasses during a lecture. He held up the pair of glasses and said that studying a foreign language is like putting on a pair of glasses. Everything out there remains the same; however, your perception of that reality changes. Reality is now perceived through the history and culture of another people and that enriches the student. That same year our professor told us of a national contest in Spain held by “El Pais” (The Nation) a leading newspaper. The newspaper wanted a drawing that captured the “national spirit.” The winning submission was a boy spelling out the words “Viva Yo” (Long live me) on the sand, in his own stream of urine.


Michael Dodd said...

Years ago,I heard that then-Cardinal Ratzinger told someone that he had never met a homosexual. I knew it wasn't true, because he had met me. Not that he would have assumed I am gay, of course. He hasn't the glasses to see us. As a result, he and those like him blithely and blindly act as though we do not really exist except as some vague floater in their eyes.

The pro-theocracy crowd here in the States will never learn from the history of Spain or anywhere, not even our own American history. These are the same people in Texas who re-write the history books to ignore Islam, for example. They keep cutting things to fit their blindness instead of letting facts stretch their vision.

Having spent over thirty years as a student and follower of Teresa and John, I recall that they and their writings were reported to the Inquisition. Yet both somehow managed to become Doctors of the Church, Teresa as the first woman so recognized. Sadly, the church has yet to learn some important lessons even from those it acknowledges as its own best teachers.

Anonymous said...

Dear father G:I just found your blog and it has made my day.Thank You!
Ben Spanish Lesson:In European press I ve seen pics of handsome Georg,Ben´´s intimate secretary.They spend the day together,.and oH the gossips..

Father Geoff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Father Geoff said...

Dear Anonymous,

Yes, I'd heard those comments about his handsome young monsignor years ago. When I visited Rome in 2000 the Italians called young attractive men “a cardinal’s mouth-full.”

Back in the good 'ole USA, there are many handsome young monsignors serving as "assistants" to cardinals and bishops. I guess these are not what Benedict XVI refers to as “aggressive homosexuals.”

Mareczku said...

Well, you know what they say. Rank has its privileges.