Holiness is nice but not essential in a pope



Cardinal George
  • Al Podgorski/Chicago Sun-Times
  • Cardinal George
Musings while reading the morning papers . . .

Give Cardinal George points for candor. George sat for an interview with the Tribune's Manya Brachear before taking off for Rome to help elect a new pope. He told Brachear what he thinks the job requires.

"You're talking about governance here," said George. "People say sanctity. Well, sanctity is nice, but there have been popes who have governed fairly well who have not been holy. . . . What's important here is governance. Can the man govern the church as a pastor? He has to be a man who knows the Lord because he's governing in his name. But it doesn't mean he's going to be a great saint."

Governing in God's name . . . as distinct from God governing through the pope, or God divinely inspiring the pope. This sounds like God playing golf and letting the CEO run the corporation.

The interview "was cut short," Brachear tells us, because George was changing his travel plans to get out of Chicago before today's snowstorm hit. Would her next question have gone into, say, papal infallibility? How would George square that notion, which makes it so hard for the Church to revisit pernicious old doctrines, with his idea of the papacy as a job where holiness is optional?

Is anything more certain the day after the Oscars than second thoughts about the emcee the night before?

The New York Times placed this tired wheeze of an article on page one of Tuesday's Arts section. It focused on Seth MacFarlane's song-and-dance number "We Saw Your Boobs." Said Cathy Schulman, a producer who's president of Women in Film, "Among the women I've talked to today I would say I haven't heard from any who thought it was in good taste."

The Times story continued, "She expressed particular chagrin that the dance number poked fun at nudity, which is generally a difficult issue for actresses, in connection with performances that were often 'wrenching and moving in many ways.'"

Wrenching and moving in that profound way which only becomes possible when a beautiful woman takes her clothes off. If you can't poke fun at nudity, what can you poke fun at? And what does good taste have to do with it?

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