Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Narcissists . . . leprosy

The world now knows that those words came from the lips of Francis. [Pope, in New Interview, Vows to Change Vatican Mentality, The New York Times, 1st Oct 2013.] It must be to share with the world the challenge in front of him – “to change the Vatican's mentality”? And that includes addressing narcissists and leprosy [Tzaraath]; and the latter, in biblical terms, could mean that the Vatican has to seek repentance and forgiveness?
Wikipedia: “Narcissism is a term that originated with Narcissus in Greek mythology who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. Currently it is used to describe a person characterized by egotism, vanity, pride, or selfishness; an erotic gratification derived from admiration of one's own physical or mental attributes . . . The concept of excessive selfishness has been recognized throughout history. In ancient Greece the concept was understood as hubris . . .
“The Hebrew noun tzaraath . . . describes disfigurative conditions of the skin and body hair mainly referred to in chapters 13-14 of Leviticus . . . [T]he classical Jewish sources argue that cure from tzaraath only came about through repentance and forgiveness . . . According to Gates of Repentance, a standard work of Jewish ethics written by Rabbenu Yonah of Gerona, if someone commits a sin, a forbidden act, he can be forgiven for that sin if he performs teshuva, which includes . . . regretting/acknowledging the sin . . . forsaking the sin . . . acting and speaking with humility . . . acting in a way opposite to that of the sin . . . confessing the sin . . . praying for atonement . . . correcting the sin however possible . . . pursuing works of chesed  ["loving-kindness"] and truth . . . remembering the sin for the rest of one's life . . . refraining from committing the same sin if the opportunity presents itself again . . . teaching others not to sin.”
Given the magnitude of the challenge, it now makes sense why “Pope Francis has promised to do everything in his power to change the Vatican's mentality, saying in an interview published on Tuesday that it was too focused on its own interests . . . In the long interview with the atheist editor of the left-leaning La Repubblica newspaper, he said too many previous popes in the Church's long history had been "narcissists" who let themselves been flattered by their "courtier" aides.”
"The (papal) court is the leprosy of the papacy," said Francis . . . The interview, conducted last week in the pope's spartan residence in a Vatican guest house, appeared as he began a three-day, closed-door meeting with eight cardinals from around the world to help him reform the Vatican's troubled administration, known as the Curia . . . There are some "courtiers" among the Curia's administrators, he said, but its main defect is that it is too inward-looking. It looks after the interests of the Vatican, which are still, in large part temporal interests. This Vatican-centric vision neglects the world around it and I will do everything to change it," he said. . . . Francis said the eight cardinals he had chosen to make up his advisory board did not have selfish motives. “They are not courtiers but wise people who are inspired by my same feelings. This is the start of a Church with an organization that is not only vertical but also horizontal," he said.”
I had to read and re-read The New York Times article and had to Google words like narcissist and leprosy if only to appreciate where Francis was coming from. The words indeed then appeared to come together – and even come to life. And as a Pinoy, figuring out what Francis has been up to, I couldn’t help but remember Rizal. The one other time I was reminded of Rizal was when my wife and I were in a resort by the Black Sea, and tall cylindrical planters that were all over the resort had been inscribed with Rizal’s Ultimo Adios. And it was noteworthy because the resort was managed by a Spanish hotel chain.
In this blog I’ve talked about the church being a major dimension of our culture. And the “backwardness” and “anti-progress” that Rizal raised are as true today – i.e., PHL has the worst gap between rich and poor in the region? And hopefully with Francis, the church would soon come to terms with the challenge of change? But it wouldn’t be easy for Juan de la Cruz and/or the church to step up to the plate precisely because backwardness and anti-progress aren’t predisposed to change? And so while we continue to seek for answers, we need to ask ourselves a simple question: what did our neighbors do to become Asian Tigers? Studies and more studies can go only so far – if we don’t acknowledge the mistakes we’ve made, and made repeatedly – especially being cellar dwellers with no track record to speak of? 

No comments:

Post a Comment