Sunday, February 1, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Cardinals’ lavish lifestyle is too much

erbe column sig

By
From page A11 | March 15, 2013 |

Obviously, I wasn’t in charge of selecting the new pope, Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina. If I’d been in charge of the College of Cardinals, the selection process would have looked completely different.

We all know that the Roman Catholic Church is enveloped in a galactic array of scandals. It is said that when people are in trouble they should look to their roots to find solutions. That sage advice should apply to cardinals as well. They could look back to the figure on whose teachings the church was founded and emulate him. Would Jesus Christ have allowed his followers to carry on with the pomp and circumstance the cardinals and other members of the church hierarchy employed? Methinks not.

The cardinals’ elaborate costumes and their luxurious quarters date back to the beginning of the first millennium, when the church was still largely controlled or heavily influenced by the Holy Roman Emperor. As Constantine had converted his empire from paganism to Christianity, so his successors controlled the early church’s leadership. In a power grab in the year 1059, church officials took advantage of the fact that Henry IV was only 6 when he became Holy Roman Emperor – and had no power. They wrested control of appointing the church’s most powerful leader from the secular realm and placed it in church hands.

In the 2,000-plus years since Christ lived, the church has changed from a group whose leaders and followers eschewed wealth and its trappings (remember Jesus tossing the money lenders and financiers out of the temple?) to a group that worshipped money in a figurative sense almost as much as they worshipped God.

I’m not suggesting the pope or the cardinals revert to wearing sackcloth. But the specter of a convention of mainly very white and very old men, adorned in silk robes and luxuriating in the Vatican’s high-priced real estate does not sit well. It sits particularly unwell at a time when the modern era has drawn back the cloak of secrecy that used to shield from public view such things as the massive priest pedophilia scandal. A shift to a less opulent lifestyle would serve the church hierarchy well at least from a public-relations perspective.

So, too, would some fast thinking on the issue of who qualifies to sit in the College of Cardinals, thereby to engage in the selection of a pope. The fact that the electors included the former archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony, was a stinging slap across the face of the thousands who were sexually molested by priests when they were young. Mahony and an ex-priest are paying four men almost $10 million to settle allegations that they covered up child sex abuse by a priest.

I think of low-income workers who live just above the poverty level and nonetheless tithe each Sunday. I think of parents who entrusted their young sons to church choirs and Catholic schools decades ago, only to find out their children were raped by mentally unbalanced men of the cloth. Having those culpable in the scandal continue to take part in the college’s work – and to be granted the wealthy lifestyle normally afforded to CEOs and U.S. presidents – was stunningly insensitive.

The church would do better to swiftly ax corrupt members of its hierarchy and dial down their luxurious lifestyles. Leaders would not have to look far for examples. They’d just have to crack open the New Testament.

Bonnie Erbe, host of PBS’ “To the Point,” writes this weekly column for Scripps Howard News Service. Email [email protected]

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 5 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • G-ManMarch 14, 2013 - 2:16 pm

    Just another racket..one should know though that the Pope's apt at the Vatican is not exactly luxurious...photos I've seen present a rather shabby place..large..but not exactly a place to be featured on "Cribs"......Pope John Paul II I heard slept on a simple single bed..a tick or two above a cot...of course there's also the Prada shoes..seem de rigeur for the well dressed Pontiff these days..Wasn'tthere a movie?.."The(somebody,I forget)wearsPrada"?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • G-ManMarch 14, 2013 - 2:19 pm

    Bonnie I don't think mentioned how frugal Francis is...forsaking the Limo for the Bus..living in a simple apt rather than the upscale quarters afforded Argentine's Cardinal..maybe some of his frugality will rub off on the princes of the church.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • PatriotMarch 15, 2013 - 6:20 am

    Cardinals, Arch Bishops and Priest all live like kings. This is even after many have left the church due to the molestations and "Canon law" abuses. Priests are able to do whatever they want to with very little oversight by their Bishops..They are wined and dined by parishers and believe they are supposed to be treated like "Kings"..There are many that have used their power to abuse those they didn't like..I see some hope in the newer generation we have now and cannot wait for their elder priests to retire!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Terry D.March 16, 2013 - 10:35 am

    Dear Bonnie, Regarding your cardinal lifesyle op-ed. I have kept other articals or yours that I have found interesting. One in particlur on Religion and Atheisism. Your latest article on the opulent life style of the hierarchy as they preach against birth control to the poorest of the poor, belies all reason. This is one more reason that I, at age 77, have found complete peace of mind in accepting Atheism as the most rational belief. How anyone that reads of scientific discoveries over the centuries can swallow these myths is beyond me. Unfortunatly, in our society, I and my chemist husband, have found it necessary to remain "in the closet" during our working years. We found this necessary in order not to be eliminated from possible advancement or ability to join in everday clubs, etc. in the area that we live. Now that we are retired, it has been interesting when the subject arises, we speak our minds and don't care who knows what our beliefs are, even to those who have known us for many years. Now we get to know who are our true freinds. Incidentally, we have had true sympathy for our gay friends, as we know how it feels not to feel free in this society to be or believe other than what the majority believes. Keep up the great editorials. Terry D.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Joseph GoldmanDecember 05, 2013 - 8:18 pm

    This is really disappointing commentary. Can you please site in your article when you had the audience with your Bishop or Cardinal or the Pope in Rome in their personal quarters so you can write about firsthand knowledge of their lifestyles? Every priest I grew up with lived like paupers. They didn't own property; they didn't drive cars; they had no other clothing or shoes than their standard priests' black shirt and pants getup. I know there have been some bad apples in the Church and they should be found and punished. But people need to stop making sweeping generalizations bashing all of the them. The Catholic Church is the largest provider of social services in the world. It's not like they don't do any good for anyone.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Fire Department honors top firefighters

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
 
 
 
4th annual Health and Wellness Fair a big success

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Banish dry skin this winter

By Sarah Porkka | From Page: C4, 1 Comment

 
Chocolate: A long journey to deliciousness

By Karen Metz | From Page: C4

 
County board to consider DA reorganization plan

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Eurozone offers lesson in debt

By Mark Sievers | From Page: B7

 
Rodriguez graduate completes basic training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

 
Fairfield police log: Jan. 30, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Jan. 30, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

From ocean to ocean, through the Panama Canal

By The Associated Press | From Page: C1

 
NASA launches Earth-observing satellite

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Scientist considered father of birth control pill dies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

‘Rolled Sleeves Bandit’ tied to 7 bank robberies in custody

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Bay Area agency accuses former official of embezzling $1.3M

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Los Angeles female-only mosque may be first in US

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
California health care contract fight resolved

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Man arrested after body parts found in suitcase

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
 
Snails slither into spa scene in Thailand and around world

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

Letter with suspicious powder received at Samaritan’s Purse

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Drivers: Return to your dealers for a 2nd air bag recall fix

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Hatfields, McCoys make moonshine legally in southern W.Va.

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Airport authorities: Traveler beats homeless man with chair

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Kerry: ‘Enormous interest in new relationship with Cuba

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

From car lots to city budgets, cheap oil means change

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
5 given preliminary charges over jihadi network in France

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Fire devastates major Russian library, threatens rare texts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Swiss police: 4 dead after avalanche hits group of skiers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Fire at Bangladesh plastics factory kills at least 13

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Islamic State fighters admit defeat in Syrian town of Kobani

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Africa agrees to send 7,500 troops to fight Boko Haram

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Greek leader tamps down rhetoric, vows to pay off debts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Civilians flee east Ukraine town as fighting intensifies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
British actress Geraldine McEwan dies at age 82

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoon: Feb. 1, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sound off for Feb. 1, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Feb. 1, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Feb. 1, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Prayer, commonly misunderstood

By The Rev. Rick L. Stonestreet | From Page: C3, 7 Comments

 
Sundance doc pulls back curtain on Scientology

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Volunteer or visit because February is National Salute to Veteran Patients

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

Horoscopes: Feb. 1, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

 
.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Review: ‘First Bad Man’ is Miranda July’s debut novel

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Lorrie Moore nominated for short story prize

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

New book to feature unpublished Hemingway conversations

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

Mustangs win the whole Encalada

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Super Bowl the final act of the NFL’s worst season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Lowest prices on last-minute Super Bowl tickets near $9,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Seau, Bettis, Brown, Haley, Shields voted into Hall of Fame

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Rodgers wins MVP, Watt unanimous top AP defensive player

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Lydia Ko takes No. 1 spot at 17, Na Yeon Choi wins opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Laird takes a 3-shot lead in Phoenix Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

.

Business

On the money: Low gas prices, incentives change math for electric cars

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Small talk: NFL players find second careers as entrepreneurs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Sumptuous seaside hotel sells for record-shattering $360M

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Recalls this week: space heaters, orbital sanders

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Review: Open e-book format comes with headaches

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
.

Obituaries

Anthony Neal Hunley

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Frank Z. Perez

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Flora Mae Brooks

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Lester Singer

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics