With all the recent noise about the Catholic Church’s continuing problem with a clergy that molests children as well as each other, and the let-down which followed Pope Francis’s recent big nothingburger gathering of prelates in Rome to supposedly address the problem, our own Brother Paul felt it was important to review exactly why we are all required to continue revering the Church. He wants to know: are you guys down for holiness, or what? Do you get the value of this really old, creaky institution that isn’t just your one-stop for a heavenly ticket, but the world’s largest collections of marble statuary with fig leaves covering genitals? So get on board, and stay on board! To pre-order your own personalized halo, here’s what you need to know:
The Church was founded to save all of humanity by providing the kind of structured play that allows for psychological growth and personal enrichment. Wait, hold it. No—that’s the Waldorf Schools. But the Church did fine work, too. It provided a solid belief system, with a resulting self-righteousness that over many centuries engendered not just widespread abuse of power within the organization, but extraordinarily thorough persecution of virtually all those outside it.
It is impossible to overstate the power and influence (or, in Italian, influenza) of the Church in the cultural life of the western world. The great themes of the Bible and of the Church’s mission have found sublime expression in countless art works down through the centuries, from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel fresco, “Pull My Finger,” to Leonardo da Vinci’s celebrated work “The Last Color-by-Numbers Supper.”
What is the Church, exactly? It’s a red-hot multinational operation based in Rome, and is a huge player in the trillion-dollar international religion industry. Each year, through the efforts of its COO, the Holy Ghost, it churns out huge quantities of masses, sacraments, prayers, and indulgences, both off-the-rack and the more upscale tailored-to-fit, all of which generate revenues estimated to be in the hundreds of billions. Exact figures are not available, since the Church is not obliged by law to open its books, it being a privately-held corporation wholly owned by the Blessed Trinity, Incorporated.
Who founded it? Glad you asked. Jesus Christ founded the Church, with seed money from a local farmer. In an initially difficult financial environment, some of the seed money was choked off by a freeze-up of the inter-bank lending system, and some of it withered from having landed in CDs with miserable interest rates. Luckily, some fell on fertile ground and ended up in sweetheart deals with monarchs, or with tax-free status in various republics, allowing it to thrive and yield bountiful dividends, yea, unto a hundredfold.
In His infinite savvy, Jesus Christ gave special power to this one guy, Saint Peter, by making him head of the Apostles and ruler of the entire Church. This was done to prevent any kind of run¬away power grab, since Peter was generally acknowledged to be too thick to do anything genuinely aggressive or dangerous. What nobody counted on was the appearance of that guy Saul, or Paul, or whatever.
To this very day, the Church’s affairs (pathetic pun intended) are administered by bishops anointed as direct successors to the Apostles down through centuries—a vast timespan highlighted by numerous brutal wars waged against anyone challenging Church power, and corruption that makes Caligula look like a kindergarten teacher.
Today’s bishops and their parish priests are assisted by generous parishioners with equally generous bank accounts, and by young, comely, enthusiastic males who are called subdeacons, acolytes, gofers, or sometimes just “cutie,” by both bishops and priests.
Brother Paul is pleased to provide this information to the faithful, under the strict auspices of edible THC. Keep those questions coming!