Pope Benedict’s U.S. visit sweet and bitter

To date, Pope Benedict’s visit to the United States has been characterized by a hope filled and genuine atmosphere of reconciliation and ecumenism.

His sincere and heart felt public expression of shame and sorrow over the sex abuse scandal that has rocked the faith of many Catholic Americans is an overdue though much welcomed balm to the emotional and spiritual wounds of the victims.

During a visit to the Park East Synagogue in New York city Benedict said, “I know that the Jewish community make a valuable contribution to the life of the city and I encourage all of you to continue building bridges of friendship with all the many different ethnic and religious groups present in the neighbourhood,”

During an address to the UN General Assembly yesterday, Pope Benedict stated that “all nations have a duty to protect people from human rights violations and humanitarian crises.” He also urged all nations to work collectively to protect the environment.

Unquestionably, the violation of human rights and the destruction of the natural environment are twin evils that require our immediate and undivided attention.

Though perhaps just as telling is what remained unsaid during the last few days concerning the part played by the Catholic Church hierarchy or what some have termed the ‘old boys club’ in denying women a role in its governance.

Article 2 from the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights states that,
“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Will we ever see the day when the role of women in the Roman Catholic Church reflects the more equitable place of women in democratic societies or the prominent status once held by some women as heads of the early ‘house churches’ at the dawn of Christianity?

Photo courtesy (Vincenzo Pinto/AFP)