Monday, February 25, 2013

Vatican dandruff

Like the "unsightly dandruff" a shampoo advertisement might claim to eliminate, the flakes and bits of unsightly Vatican adventure seem to float onto otherwise immaculate shoulders. Dandruff goes with the human territory, but the efforts to avoid or cleanse the human terrain -- while fruitless -- fill the public screen with ever-better shampoos.

Cardinal O'Brien, left, greets Pope Benedict XVI
Cardinal Keith O'Brien, England's (actually Britain's -- see correction in comments) highest ranking Catholic leader, has announced that he will not take part in the upcoming conclave of cardinals who are scheduled to elect a new pope in the wake of Benedict XVI's resignation. O'Brien said he would not attend because "he didn't want to become the focus of media attention at such a delicate time for the church." He resigned in November because, allegedly, he was approaching the mandatory retirement age of 75. Cardinals under the age of 80 can vote for the new pope.

In a news story Saturday, three priests and a former priest were said to have filed complaints with the Vatican alleging that O'Brien -- an outspoken opponent of homosexuality -- acted inappropriately (a code word for sexually) with them, apparently in the 1980's. O'Brien is contesting the allegations.

O'Brien seems to hope he will not become a piece of dandruff on the Vatican's immaculate shoulders. He may be just one flake, but every flake counts in the battle against unsightliness.

More pronounced in an unsightly world, the pope has "decided that the contents of a secret investigation into the 2012 leaks of Vatican documents won't be shared with the cardinals ahead of the conclave. The leaked documents revealed petty wrangling, corruption, cronyism and even allegations of a gay plot at the highest levels of the Catholic Church." Benedict said the contents should be left to the discretion of the new pope, whoever he (not she) might be.

The upshot is that the cardinals might conceivably elect as pope someone who had, himself, been culpable in the dysfunctions probed by the investigation.

It might all be as ludicrous as the scene with the Black Knight in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," but of course dandruff is no laughing matter among those who wish to be impeccably attired.

O Lord! Where is thy shampoo?!



  1. Sorry to be pedant Adam..and I know that the political boundaries of the UK are highly arcane..but O' Brien is the most senior RC cleric in Britain..not England..thats another fella..
    I will now put my hairsplitter away..

  2. Peter -- Thanks for the correction. I will leave my mistake as a means of underscoring your correction.

    PS: When it comes to hair-splitting, you strike me as a babe in arms when compared to the arcane gyrations at the Vatican: