The last time the pontiff came to town, I was really worried. The arrival of His Holiness was also my pregnant partner's due date. What if the Popemobile and its predicted entourage blocked the roads and prevented us from getting to the hospital on time?The truth is, I was already pissed with the Pope. Not just because I think a botched illegal abortion is as brutal a way for a woman to die as being stoned to death. It was also because a year earlier, on his first visit to Nicaragua, the Pope had publicly humiliated one of my favorite poets, Ernesto Cardenal.
Pictures of the Pope at the airport wagging his finger and publicly chastising the kneeling Cardenal were beamed around the world. What great sin had Cardenal committed to cause such an extraordinary public rebuke?
Certainly not bad poetry. It was that Cardenal, an ordained minister and one of the chief proponents of liberation theology -- then the most powerful force in the Latin American Church -- had dared to agitate non-violently on behalf of the poor of Nicaragua. He was accused of mixing Marxist and Christian doctrines.
Later, Cardenal was suspended from the priesthood, while the Vatican spent the 80s thinning out and dismantling the ranks of liberation theology, one of the consequences of which was that the U.S-backed Contra war could complete its murderous dirty work.
Now that the Pope finds his Church in the middle of a true crisis, where are the dramatic gestures? Will we see images of him in Toronto publicly chastising predatory priests and their enabling bishops? I doubt it.
This won't stop the masses from coming, though, just as they did on September 15, 1984, when the Pontiff drew the largest crowd in Toronto's history. I remember the day well. It was the birth day not only of my son Eli, but also of Prince Andrew.
Popes, priests, princes, paupers. People are born every day.www.poempainter.com