Before the Smoke, the Mirrors, by Kristine Ward

Published on March 12, 2013

Before we get to the smoking moment that heralds the one man standing on a balcony and the cascading cavalcade of comment about him begins, we think this small of space of time should be reserved for mirrors.

The mirrors that 115 men looked into this morning.

One hundred and fifteen faces of men ranging in age from 55 to 80 were reflected back to Cardinal electors as day broke across the Eternal City.

As they looked into their own eyes, we wonder if there was honesty in the moment.

If there had been, we think the circle of them concelebrating in St. Peter’s Basilica would be smaller than it was and the number of them chanting the Litany of the Saints and entering into the Sistine Chapel today would be less, considerably less than 115.

The larger circle would have formed without Cardinal Angelo Sodano and Cardinal Bernard Law.

The smaller group entering into the Sistine would be minus Cardinal Roger Mahony, Cardinal Sean Brady, Cardinal Justin Rigali, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, Cardinal George Pell, Cardinal Domeninco Calcagno.

These and others, for indeed there are others, should have self selected out of the high solemnity of the public acts of leaders of a Church that regards itself as a moral pillar of the planet.

If the electors had shown the courage to leave their chairs empty as witness of the wounds they had inflicted on the Church for which they are now choosing a leader half the battle of the rising from the ashes of scandal and crisis would be won.

Perhaps in the end of a true and honest evaluation of themselves reflected back to them by their mirrors, only one of them would have been worthy and he would simply have walked down the great aisle of the largest Church in Christendom and knelt humbly before his God.

And the Church would at this moment be on the road to resurrection.

Perhaps all of them would have been honest enough to have stayed in the quarters in which they confronted their own reflections having been overcome by the reality of the weight of scandal that bears down on the Church.

Then with honesty as a foundation for responsibility and accountability we would be at this hour moving to a profound moment for the world.

Alas, we are not.

Our thoughts turn to the survivors and their families for whom these days rip open afresh the deep, agonizing gouges of rape and sodomy suffered at the hands of men and women draped in the trappings of holiness and protected by the power that sits in the rarified secrecy of the Sistine Chapel.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition,


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