Wednesday, February 16, 2005

On Spiritual Paternity

It's become the great ecclesiastical cop-out: "Who ever gives up fatherhood?"

Bernie Law moaned it in Boston -- we all know how well that worked -- and now the pom-pom set around John Paul II (who, reports say, is watching his retreat via closed-circuit from bed and won't make the closing liturgy in St. Peter's on Saturday) has picked it up, trying to tug at the heart-strings.

Sorry, kids. It's an insipid, cheap defense.

Obviously, no one (well, short of deadbeat dads who aren't dads at all) ever "gives up" fatherhood, but parenthood has its stages. You have your kids, you raise them, they grow up, settle down, and have kids of their own, and then you hang back and enjoy your grandchildren (ecclesiastically speaking, grandfatherhood starts at 75).

Is it just me, or does the image of a septuagenarian dad giving his 40-ish son a leather-belt whupping reek of the ridiculous?

Well, same goes for this disingenuous scenario -- which makes the George VEEEE-gil cultists of personality (the same people who gave you "Padre Nuestro" Marcel Maciel) salivate, they use it so much -- of Wojtyla as "Padre Siempre." It implies that the faithful (and, basically, everyone who isn't the pope) are still petulant children stuck in a spiritual-generational Twilight Zone, with no maturity of their own and unfit to produce a new generation, as grown-ups do. Talk about an overbearing sense of control -- Jessica Simpson may need a Stage Dad, but a billion Catholics are OK without one.

When you're grown up and beloved Dad gets old and needs help, if anything, what you do is take care of him and, simply because that's life, the roles are reversed -- you give him the same fatherly qualities at the end of his life he gave you at the start of yours, the ones he's instilled you to give your kids. The cycle continues....

By that standard, I want to see this great old Dad cared for and taken care of -- he long ago scraped the bottom of his pocket to give me an allowance. Why would I demand one of him now?



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