Friday, September 02, 2016

Saint Misbehavin'

Apparently Pope Francis is formally canonizing Mother Teresa this weekend, and the only fair response is whatever, pal. I don't understand the purpose of saints anymore than I understand the purpose of the Catholic church itself. It's merely custom, tradition, and not much more than that. We do it this way because we've always done things this way.

One of the finest polemic efforts by the late great Christopher Hitchens was to pierce the impermeable balloon of perfection that MT had cultivated for herself, by buddying up to Princess Di, while taking money from scumbags like Baby Doc Duvalier and Charles Keating. (As Hitchens famously recounts in The Missionary Position, the prosecutor in the Keating case personally implored MT to return Keating's ill-gotten, fraudulent, tax-evading contribution to her cause, to which she feigned ignorance in perhaps the most literal sense of the word -- she gave a nonsensical response to the request, and then essentially ignored him.)

Hitchens nails it by pointing out that while MT postured as a friend to the poor, what she really turned out to be was a friend of poverty and suffering, as she sincerely believed those things to be gifts from god. Relief from those ailments was not the goal; the more elusive goal of "redemption" was the point of her ministries. (Well, that and her more public stances against abortion and divorce. Anything that might empower women, MT's cause was to stand against such things.)

People dying in miserable agony of cancer, AIDS, and any number of other ailments were given nothing stronger than aspirin to alleviate their pain in the filthy Missionaries of "Charity" hospices, while MT herself jetted off to California for her own health care.

The latest wearer of the Ring of the Fisherman has garnered some considerable -- and even deserving -- praise for being much more of a "people's pontiff" than his predecessors, especially the most recent two, who scarcely even bothered to pretend to give a fraction of a fuck about the most destitute among us.

At some level, even the staunchest Catholics intrinsically understand that the church is a giant racket, even if their parish has the best pancake breakfasts and the coolest priest. In the aggregate, it's just a money machine. There is no reason a church should own some of the world's most expensive real estate. That is not how one communes with the divine.

But the fact is that the church is really a business, and Pope Frank is the CEO, and the expedited beatification and canonization of MT is the proof of that. They need to drum up contributions, and this is one way to do exactly that.

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