In Goddess We Trust


Papal Clearasil
by J. Devi
The "Jubilie Year" of 2000

On Easter Sunday, 1974, in St. Peter's square, just as the pope gave his blessing in English, a pigeon shit on my head. I figured it was a message: a divine defecation if you will. I got that same warm yet yucky feeling after reading the papal apology, like the catholic king was dropping turds and calling it a blessing. Well, poopoo on the papal apology.

Most media presented this apology as an historic event, a big step towards the Vatican taking responsibility for it's history. Granted, it seemed a smart move prior to a head of state making a pilgrimage to a country his had demonized, raped and pillaged numerous times over the centuries. I figured it was probably a typical news release for a non-event, carefully crafted propaganda designed to solicit absolution for the vatican for most of the high points of European history: the Crusades, the Inquisition, hostility towards Jews and other ethnic groups and, according to some sources, sins against women.

I had a hard time believing the pope would apologize for sins against women when just a few weeks earlier he declared contraception, sterilization and abortion as 3 of the 4 worst "legal crimes" in society today. 1 Such a misogynist campaign focused on controlling females and sexuality doesn't exactly harmonize with an apologetic attitude.

So I took a closer look only to find the pope's apology was really more like a PR campaign to sell Catholic Clearasil, a way to "purify the memory" of the history of catholic "blemishes." Who would have guessed that when they speak of the highpoints in history, they are actually talking about pimples? I guess they do teach a few things differently in religious schools.

"Purification of Memory"

Sounds a bit Orwellian doesn't it? "Purification of Memory." The term is found in the vatican document "Memory and Reconciliation: the Church and the Sins of the Past."2 The text reads like a Reagan speech, where it starts off addressing an issue, only to trail off into an incoherent yet hypnotic stream of keywords and catch phrases. I can't say I followed the logic of this trail a good portion of the time anymore than I could a Reagan speech; but they seem to be nevertheless, quite effective.

Their logic for wanting to purify is sound. "...the remembrance of scandals of the past can become an obstacle to the Church's witness today."(Sect. 1.4) And they quote Augustine for the cure: "The Church...has blemishes and wrinkles. But by means of confession the wrinkles are smoothed away and the blemishes washed clean." (Sect. 3.3) (Maybe I should have referred to the apology as "Oil of Olay.")
Grammatical Contortions

I suspect even Chomsky would be impressed with how boldly this vatican document used grammar contortions to control audiences perceptions. For instance, the apology appears to take responsibility for papal policy, but is really apologizing for the commoners who committed the sin of carrying out papal policy. By doing so, the whole papal lineage gets to retain the fantasy of papal infallibility while the flock takes the rap.

Gender contortions were especially glaring. For a religion that so stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the divinity of any female, including Mary, and refuses to allow females as clergy, the apology was very quick to include countless references to "sons and daughters of the church" as the ones who did the sinning. (Not that females don't sin, but they sure don't make papal policy.)
They repeatedly refer to the church as female and "her unceasing need for penance and purification." (Sect 3.) These are examples of false inclusion and they perpetuate a tradition of always assigning sin to the female, (be it the church or the sinners themselves) while god, the popes and the Vatican's rapacious policy makers remain blameless.

One fine example of blaming the victim is found where the pope calls on Catholics to confess their historical sins: "so that we may be reconciled Jesus Christ, the only Savior of the world, and become able to forgive those who have offended us. This offer seems particularly meaningful when one thinks of the many persecutions suffered by christians in the course of history." ***

I have to confess that I am at a loss to think of many historical examples where christians were sought out to be persecuted since the Roman Empire solely for their beliefs. When they were it was usually directly related to their being invading forces, including missionaries who sought to demonize and destroy all deities and cultures not their own. That attitude, or should I say, mission statement, unfortunately remains unchanged.

One and Only v. One of Many  

  Despite the fact that the apology addresses the sins brought on by that missionary zeal and such, the pope continues to rebuke all attempts to address the core of it's self-righteous militant history. Like an adolescent male, complete with puerile pimples, the pope persists on seeing himself and his church as the One and Only, and refuses all attempts to become part of a greater whole.

Specifically, the Pontiff spoke out against the tendency to see the Church as "one means to salvation among others, which could include other religions." He added that the tendency to see religions as complementing each other can lead to indifference. He warned that efforts to see the Church as only a complement to other religions "is contrary to the faith of the Church." (Nulla Salus)3

Chances are that if the church really wanted to get rid of it's acne, it would do well to grow up and change it's diet of egocentrism. I suspect that the reason he does not is due to the fact that this ‘indifference" would simply cut into his market share.

Market Shares, Pagans and Penance

One might think that one billion believers would be a sufficient number for any religious sect, especially one as rich as the catholic church. It's not like the church needs more donations. In fact, according to Avro Manhatten, "The Catholic church is the biggest financial power, wealth accumulator and property holder in existence." 4 It buys gold bullion by the millions, which is pretty good for a nation state where the main export is shame. Nevertheless, as rich as the church is, and as sorry as the vatican claims to be, the pope never offered a penny of penance for all of the churches centuries of sin.
Even though the pope acknowledged that apologizing for the sins of Holocaust was popular these days, he quietly skipped over that part where they were giving back the money and the art. And while he apologized at length to the Jews, he essentially skipped over the Inquisition and women too. As usual, complete indifference to the Pagans, the witches, the women, the hundreds of thousands if not millions who were executed directly at the hands of the catholic church during the Inquisition.

Having caught wind of the pending apology, a group of over 1,500 Pagans from around the world wrote the pope to "respectfully request inclusion of Pagans and Witches in your Apology Address," and even offered to hear his confession and give absolution. While the pope's personal response to this offer may remain yet another papal secret, there was one traditional response from the Catholic World Report.     "But since they now identify themselves as witches and pagans, it seems that the Inquisition might have been right on the money." 5   Some bigots wear white sheets with hoods, some wear fancy robes, with exquisitely embroidered sashes and tall pointy hats. 
The CWR went on to trash to the polytheistic nature of paganism, accusing it of calling on "false gods," and also had difficulty understanding the logic of the Pagan's complaint. This is not surprising from a religion/state that behaves as though it believed the religion with the most believers and cash when Armageddon comes wins some prize.


I wouldn't be the first to bitch about the extreme insult I feel at seeing the Vatican and it's many tax exempt satellite offices/church's built on Pagan power sites adorned by and enriched by the art of disenfranchised queers, courtesans, heathens and heretics. It would be infinitely easier to let go of that resentment if the vatican would, as an act of penance, return some of what they stole: the temples and the art.

St. Peters alone is often considered the greatest art collection in the world. So why when all the world is giving up stolen booty and artwork, can't the catholic church give back some of those pagan sculptures it so highly values and humiliates at the same time? St. Peters houses nearly one statue for every one of the 400 Vatican residents so they should be able to let go of a few. Surely the largest landowner in the world can afford to give back a few temple sites it appropriated from aboriginal cultures, at least as a gesture of good will.

Could it be that the Vatican does not want to part with some of the real sources of Inspiration? Maybe they know that by controlling the art, and the archetypal images, the power spots, they can continue to fool people into thinking they are where the inspiration emanates from.

I was awe inspired when I saw the David, as many others have been. Maybe it inspired me to take this one sling shot at the catholic CEO and his giant corporation hell-bent on overpopulation and control over female sexuality while collecting cash from every corner of the earth. At the very least, may it be a strategic dropping on his big bottle of catholic Clearasoul.

   1. The fourth of the "legal crimes" the pope condemned was "euthanasia." Must be that suffering thing.
   2. Memory and Reconciliation: the Church and the Faults of the Past, Introduction, via vatican web site.
   3. Nulla Salus extra ecclesiam, Catholic World Report, 2/00, Catholic Information Center on the Internet.
   4. The Vatican Billions by Avro Manhatten
   5. "Last Word" - Pagans in Action- Diogenes - Catholic World Report - March 2000

*On the one hand, I do not believe it should be neccesary to state that I do not wish to cast aspersions on those catholics and christians who truly love, believe and practice christian love. I should be able to make a commentary on a political figure without raising the accompanying hysteria of calling a religious figures' intentions to question. My issues are with the CEO of the catholic church and his board of directors.

**I should also point out that the pope himself may not have actually spoken these words himself. In fact the text of the apology was actually a carefully prepared Vatican document, one that was at least 10 years in the making. Think of it as either "JP II" or the "JP II Administration."

First printed in Instant Planet Volume 2, #1 Summer 2000

In Goddess We Trust - works by J. Devi