2 Dec 2010

Vatican's Beatles'-music-is-beautiful message, like its response to sex scandals, is irrelevant, disconnected and decades too late

The Chronicle Herald - Halifax, Canada April 14, 2010

Church using water pistol to battle major blaze


RINGO STARR summed it up beautifully: "I think the Vatican — they’ve got more to talk about than the Beatles."

He was making the comment to CNN [see article below] on being asked about L’Osservatore Romano’s tribute to the band on the 40th anniversary of its breakup. During the weekend, the official newspaper of the Vatican praised the Beatles’ music as beautiful, living on "like precious jewels."

For a church that once condemned their music as "possibly even satanic," the comments were a remarkable admission. And about a half-century behind what the rest of us already knew.

This Beatles-is-beautiful revelation in the face of ongoing allegations of sexual abuse by priests worldwide is sadly illustrative of the Vatican’s handling of the matter. Irrelevant. Disconnected. And once again, decades too late.

The Vatican is like a guy on his front lawn chatting about the latest blockbuster film — or, in this case, how enduring the Beatles music is — as fire surrounds his home and threatens his family inside. Occasionally, a spark jumps and scorches a roof shingle, but it doesn’t quite catch, not yet.

Is he in shock? In denial? Hey, buddy! You want to yell. Snap out of it! But when he does, he picks up a water pistol instead of a fire hose.

The truth is, I have no desire to join the overwhelming chorus criticizing the Roman Catholic Church, or even religion, as the controversy deepens almost daily over claims of sexual abuse and coverups reaching right to the papacy.

I am too shaped by a Catholic upbringing, too respectful of faith that lives in the hearts of so many. Even as rationality rules and our Western world becomes increasingly secular, I value the positive roles that religion can play in our individual lives and in the lives of our communities.

But I am so weary. I am so disappointed.

You want to talk anniversaries? Here’s one for the Catholic Church: 20 years ago, the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s, N.L., was closed for good. That was 1990. The allegations of sexual and physical abuse by Christian Brothers and staff dated back to the 1950s. The official coverups started in earnest in the mid-1970s.

More than 300 orphanage residents were identified as victims. Eleven Christian Brothers were convicted and received sentences ranging from four months to 11 years. It ranked as the country’s largest sexual abuse scandal. And I believed things would change.

Unlike some fellow Catholic journalists I worked with at the time, I did not lose my religion during that difficult period for the Church. I hung on even as reports of sexual abuse by priests and subsequent coverups continued to surface in the years that followed. I believed in Pope John Paul II, and I believed the Church would change.

I certainly believed it that July day in 2002 when I watched him on TV address hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic Catholics on World Youth Day in Toronto. The future of the Church belonged to those young believers, full of hope and forgiveness. How could the Church not change?

Today, instead, in the face of this latest scandal, we get silence at the top. Or excuses that the Church is no different from other institutions in its problems with pedophilia. Or blame that the media or anti-Catholic forces are at work.

I wonder how many of those young pilgrims who had camped out for the frail John Paul that day eight years ago — who had cheered and cried on seeing him — are still believers. Or are they more like my sons, intent on debating the merits of being atheist versus agnostic? Or like me, living in this state of resigned ambivalence?

It occurred to me recently that among Catholic friends and acquaintances, other than the elderly, the only ones who seem to go to mass regularly now are the ones still planning to marry in the Church. A colleague said she was stunned that her son, who had long wanted nothing to do with the religion, was doing the "whole nine yards" for his wedding this summer.

Perhaps it’s the lovely photo-op backdrop that a stone church provides the flowing white dress — but that would be the cynical part of me talking.

I’d like to think they want to marry in the Catholic Church because they still believe in it — that its widespread systemic failures can be addressed and a redemptive path found. And that it won’t take another 40 years.

(Maggie Marwah is a freelance writer and communications consultant living in Halifax.)

This article was found at: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Columnists/1177065.html


CNN - April 12, 2010

Ringo Starr: 'Vatican has more to talk about than the Beatles'

By Phil Han, CNN

London, England (CNN)-- The Vatican may have forgiven the Beatles over the weekend for their "satanic" messages -- but Ringo Starr, the legendary band's drummer, says he couldn't care less.

In a tribute published to mark the 40th anniversary of the breakup of the band, who singer John Lennon once claimed were "more popular than Jesus," the Vatican newspaper "L'Osservatore Romano" said it had forgiven them and called them a "precious jewel."

But Starr told CNN: "Didn't the Vatican say we were satanic or possibly satanic -- and they've still forgiven us? I think the Vatican, they've got more to talk about than the Beatles.
Starr was speaking to CNN's BeckAnderson about the launch of his latest solo album called "Y Not," which was released in January.

"I was sitting around in LA and I went on the synth and just got some rhythm patterns with some chords I enjoyed and then drummed to that," Starr said.

"We had no song and we just played something and kept it moving and that's how it all happened."

The album is Starr's 15th album as a solo artist.

Starr also responded to allegations that he had asked his fans to "back off" and explained why he no longer signs autographs.

"I just said to fans that I'm not signing anymore," Starr said.

"That what it was, it wasn't back off, I'm not a vicious man. I don't sign anymore, people say sign this and I just say no."

This article was found at:



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