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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Monday, December 04, 2006

AP Exclusive: An Interview with Giovanni Cardinal Marotta (Part I)

Rome (AP)--Few figures in the Catholic Church's hierarchy over the past 40 years have been as controversial as the 98-year-old Giovanni Cardinal Marotta (pictured left with the late Pope John Paul II in 2005). A one time canonist and official of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith--the former Inquisition--Marotta has drawn ire in recent years for his outspokenness and frank talk regarding issues of Church and State. Known for his trademark pithy Latin phrases, he has been a critic of the reforms that were initiated by the Second Vatican Council and has not spared even his fellow Princes of the Church from his criticism. Yet for all his candor and his penchant for "telling it like it is," he is a beloved priest, teacher, spiritual director and friend. Our own Lucia Feruzzi, Rome Bureau Correspondent, sat down with the Cardinal for a candid one-on-one interview on all things.

Q: Your Eminence, outspokenness has always been a trademark of yours--and I'm bracing myself for your response to this question. What are your thoughts regarding the actions of your fellow Cardinals over the past several months? Specifically, I'm thinking of
Cardinal Hummes' assertion that mandatory priestly celibacy be dropped and Cardinal Mahony's real estate ventures.

Marrotta: Si quaeris mentulas, circumspice! The bottom line with these "princes" is the fact that they have to stop thinking they are princes and start behaving like Apostles! Enough of these guys being twinkletoes! I am reminded of Boccaccio's Decameron and the story of Abraham when I hear about these guys. Luckily, I am not long exposed to them at any one time.

Q: (laughter) It sounds like you don't have much use for some of your colleagues?

Marotta: Our Lord speaks of denying oneself and taking up one's cross. The problem with our cardinals and bishops today--as it has been in ages past--is that a lot of them are career politicians and ecclesial climbers. They curry favor with the right people and when they get into their exalted positions, they end up scandalizing the Church. They prefer sipping chablis with CEOs than drinking a bottle of Est! Est! Est! with the farmer in the pew. I say millstones all around! Horribile dictu.

Q: Your Eminence, it has been said that you yourself have been a scandal to the Church in the past. Specifically, I am thinking of the incident when you told the famous Dutch theologian, Fr. Bjorn Joregensen, to "go to hell." Another time, was your participation in a rather raucous display in the Campo de Fiori condemning heretics and the like with some of your students while allegedly intoxicated. Do you consider yourself a scandal to the Church?

Marotta: No.

Q: Why not?

Marotta: Because this is a normal response to idiocy! After the Council, there was a lot of experimentation and loosening of rules and the like. It was a time of social and political upheaval the world over. For example let us take music. Palestrina was no longer the paradigm for artistic and sanctifying music at Mass, but John Lennon became the norm. As a side note, let's just come out and say it--the Beatles stink! Did the cultural revolution they ushered in in terms of music contribute mightily to the West? Instead of an authentic building up of our society, those long-haired pot smoking types ushered in a culture of lazy self-absorbed hedonists. This was an era where music emphasized the ephemeral and hyper-emotional and started reducing men to nothing other than little cream puffs. Unfortunately, in many quarters it continues to this day and we are suffering the effects of it. But, there are many young people today who have seen this type of mentality and are rejecting it. Unfortuately, many who are in the hierarchy today breathed in too much of these toxic fumes during those days of aggiornamento and, for whatever reason, still think that way.

Q: Wow. There is a lot there, Your Eminence. But back to the incidents I cited, did the Holy See ever censure you?

Marotta: I was called into the Holy Father's private office--this was after the Campo de Fiori incident in 1985. We both had a glass of slivovic.

[Part II will be featured later this week]