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The Vatican leaves the UN

by William Cleary

One surprise surpasses another these days in a seeming endless series of church scandal shockers. The priest sex abuse stories still make news every single day for those who watch the Abuse Tracker on the website of the National Catholic Reporter (http://www.ncrnews.org/abuse).

Roman Catholics who might wonder if they belong to a church built on the model of Jesus of Nazareth for whom solidarity with humble people was a top ppriority -- heard new upsetting news in May. We learned then that the Vatican has sought the intervention of the U.S. State Department to declare Pope Benedict XVI immune from testifying in a sexual abuse lawsuit filed in Texas. A church official contacted the State Department May 20, asking it to notify a Houston federal court of the pope's immunity as the head of a foreign state, according to the defense motion made by Vatican attorneys. They requested at least a delay on the matter.

Head of a foreign state? It's true: the "Holy See," or "Vatican City," are the names given in the United Nations for our Church headquarters, and it's supposedly a sovereign state sending ambassadors everywhere and receiving them also like every UN state. It's all perfectly logical if you are aware of the history behind it, but is it not time for a change, or is it too late? As Hans Christian Anderson proved, sometimes a fable or a parable can clarify what otherwise would seemeem inexplicable. Try this for size.

The Ugly Frogling

Once long ago, the global pond
Decided to unite
To help frog nations live in peace
            And not forever fight.

So on one large and central rock
Frog envoys would convene
To work for peace and harmony
            And keep the pond serene.

Then one day, as the delegates
Assumed their meeting mode,
They noticed that among the frogs
            Sat one gigantic toad.

They took offense. "What are you, Sir?"
"A FROG! A FROG! " he croaked.
"But frogs say RIBBIT!"  they replied,
            Assuming that he'd joked.

"I grew up as a frog!'  he groaned,
"A frog home took me in
When I was just a pollywog
            With vaguely froggish skin!"

"Be wise!" the frogs said, "Don't you see

You are a gorgeous toad?

A life of false identity

            Is such a thankless road!"

At last the toad began to see
How sensible their call,
And one dark night that massive toad
            Departed, warts and all.

(The moral of this narrative:

"It's not too late to be
a church of humble words and ways
and solidarity.")

Other fables of Hans Christian Cleary can be found at www.clearyworks.com

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