Archive for April 2010

La Bella Figura

"What is a good Catholic? A good Catholic, traditionally, is someone who kept their mouth shut, their pocket-book open, paid, prayed and obeyed, was docile, went to mass, obeyed all the commandments and went to confession on a regular basis. For the most part this was ritualized: obedient and quiet. But a good Catholic is not that at all. A good Catholic is a Catholic in the model of Jesus Christ; a revolutionary - someone whose not afraid. Someone whose not afraid to get up and speak the truth. Remember, the only time Christ got angry was when he went to church." - Father Tom Doyle, Canon Lawyer and Historian (from the 2006 documentary 'Deliver us from Evil').

It seems some what imprudent of me to pass judgment on a religion I do not adhere to. Nonetheless, I must applaud the wisdom of Fr. Doyle and the courage it took to speak those words. Father Tom Doyle is a leading activist in the fight against the Church's cover-up of pedophilia by the clergy in the US and for that he was denied any chance of furthering his career in the Church. Because behind the pedophile there is a far more sinister truth. It is a system of cover-ups, lies and deceit perpetrated by Bishops, Cardinals and Church-leaders, including the Pope himself, who care more about their own image and the image of the institution they belong to than the victims of sex abuse, many of them children.

This stems from the profound belief in "la bella figura" doctrine - or "good image". This is the belief that no matter what happens one has to keep up appearances which according to veteran Vatican analyst John Allen is "undeniably influential in Vatican psychology" (see: All the Pope’s Men: the Inside Story of How the Vatican Really Thinks). Whereas there is no wrong in beauty, it is absolutely shameful to exploit a concern for la bella figura to cover up mistakes, justify inaction, or rationalise a refusal to change bad policies.

This philosophy is also deeply rooted in the psyche of the Maltese Curia. Take for example Fr. Mark Montebello and the effort that has been made to shut him up for speaking his mind and for defending the truth. Why are our roads only resurfaced and maintained when the Pope comes for a visit? And what have we to say about the Hal Luqa monument?

I find it truly hard to believe that this is what Christ stood for.

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