Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Men without hats

I was today reading about Chapeaugraphy, a form of street entertainment in 17th Century Paris invented by Tabarin, the most famous of the Charlatans. It involved taking a ring of heavy felt and forming it into the shapes of various hats. Perhaps it does not seem much like fun, but you must remember they did not have Facebook back then.

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI should consider discovering this lost art. Such an ability to perform tricks might come in handy for distracting critics from the huge problem of child abuse in his Church. At present the Roman Catholic Church is adopting a tactic of smearing other institutions that have care of children, by suggesting that the Church has dealt with the problem and that the others should jolly-well get on with it themselves.

Clearly this ruse will not work, since everyone knows (or should know) how Rome has dealt with the problem until now. Consider, for example, Cardinal Bernard Law, who was forced to resign as Archbishop of Boston after his to conceal abuse almost brought the Archdiocese to destruction. When he found himself in need of a new job and somewhere to run, the Church took him to its heart by awarding him the position of Archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, in Rome. This, of course, was the action of John-Paul II; the present Pope is said to take a harder line on the issue - taking any kind of line is considered to be quite staunch, given the Church's reluctance to discuss the matter. But Benedict XVI has done his bit; in May 2001, when he was plain old Cardinal Ratzinger and head of the Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, he sent a letter to all the Bishops reminding them that claims of child sex abuse were subject to the Pontifical Secret, and so should not be reported to the lawful authorities until they had been investigated within the Church.

It is not as if it were a new problem, either: the matter of child sexual abuse by Priests was first addressed a couple of Benedicts ago, in 1741.


Lyndon said...

The Fark headline: "Vatican says child sexual abuse isn't just a Catholic problem. In related news, other companies make facial tissue but we still call it all Kleenex"

I recall that the was a Pope who had played the Dottore in Commedia dell'Arte at university. But this is book-learning and apparently the internet cannot tell me if it was a benedict of not.

Anonymous said...

How serendipitous. I was reading a book on Yiddish civilisation in medieval Eastern Europe, also involving distinctive hats.

Craig Y