Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Vatican parable - "Fleecing the Sheep"

This story has been discussed by several excellent bloggers, but I can't help myself.

An AP article sets the scene:

"Pope Benedict XVI has blessed two lambs whose wool will be shorn to make shawls for newly appointed archbishops to wear."

Annually, on St. Agnes' feast day, two sheep are placed in a basket, tied down, and a crown of flowers is placed on their heads.

The pope then says the magic words and the sheep are "blessed" and can be shorn to make the appropriate shawls.

"New archbishops receive the wool pallium on June 29. The pallium is a band of white wool decorated with black crosses that is a sign of pastoral authority and a symbol of the archbishops' bond with the pope."

The Freethinker tells us more. These sheep are raised by Trappist monks. But it wasn't all so warm and woolly. In the Middle Ages, popes charged a fee from the prelates who received the pallium, "earning hundreds of millions of gold florin for the papacy."

That didn't go over so well and the Council of Basle, in 1342, condemned the practice.

Today, the pope is still blessing sheep to be shorn and handing out the pallium to his new archbishops. In fact, you can see a YouTube video of him doing so here.

But there's more to all of this pretty, pious, pallium performance.

'Tis a parable, methinks. For 2000 years, the church's sheep have been shorn of their hard-earned cash to promote the lavish lifestyle of popes and princes. These sheep, though, received no pallium, but rather a palliative (the latter word being derived from the Latin, pallium). They were treated to the illusion that safely ensconced in the bosom of Mother Church, they would live forever with God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) in the heavenly places.

Today, the church's sheep are also being shorn of their hard-earned cash to finance the payoffs to thousands of the lambs who were molested by the church's priestly pedophiles.

And that because the Church, for years, tried to pull the wool over everyone's eyes!

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