by Edd Doerr
Arturo Perez-Reverte (1951 -- ) is one of Spain's best and most important writers. A former war correspondent for 20 years he settled down to write books (history, novels, mysteries), nearly all available in English, and a weekly column in a news journal, these later collected in books. Here is one of his 2004 columns, in my hasty translation.
Jeez, man. It seems we were mistaken. It was all a really stupid error. New the Catholic Church and the pope are asking for Luther's pardon. We goofed. A few bonfires. No big deal, compared with the mess you made with your 95 theses in Wittenberg and the schism. A few ashes and cinders here and there, firewood for heretics who speak English and stuff like that. As the Romans used to say, "O tempora, O mores". In the end we burned some bodies to save their souls. And we tortured with rope, water and fire to avoid bloodshed, and for the ultimate death penalty we relied on the secular arm, the state. Anyway, when a Lutheran dog, excuse me, a heretic, a disoriented brother in Christ, abjured before being burned, we had him strangled before lighting the pyre, so that his soul would ascend to heaven before he felt the flames and condemned himself. Anyway, four centuries is no big deal. What are gazillions of imprisonments and torturings and beheadings and burnings compared to the immensity of the ocean and the tick-tick-tick of eternity? Nothing. A bump in the road.
It is curious, this thing of the Catholic Church and the pardon. Always late. There's no fixing the 16th century or the jails of the Inquisition. The system still works. Just ask these dissident theologians, Leonardo Boff, Castillo, Toni de Melo, Charles Curran, the German bishops studying abortion, the Liberation theologians, the guerrilla priests, those who have to deal with the Polish mafia [?]. They no longer burn but they can still get you or marginalize you. The system is the same: they can set you up or take you down: intransigence, dogma, papal infallibility. When they run out of rope, then they say they are sorry. Then they talk about reconciliation and tolerance. And all those whose lives they have ruined -- Galileo, the Jews, the converted Muslims [in Spain], the heretics, the dissidents, the burned to death, the exiled, the beheaded, the supposed 14 year old witches, the victims of fanaticism .... well.
Frankly, four centuries after the Council of Trent when the Church asked pardon of Luther, I don't give a damn. How long will we have to wait for them to ask pardon of the priests and theologians cast into outer darkness because of their social justice activity. Or to deplore all the executions before rifles sprinkled with holy water, or tortured and thrown drugged and nude ffom planes [reference to Argentina's dirty war]. Or for the gays whose lives were ruined by centuries of repression. When will they ask pardon of the girls forced to become mothers because every embryo is sacred. Or for the victims of fanaticism, of ignorance, ethnic hate. Or the women who bleed to death from clandestine abortions. Or the marriages ties in heaven but indissoluble on earth, but dissolved by ecclesiastical courts that are paid off. Or the millions of Africans who have dies from AIDS because contraceptives impede procreation.
So now Rome and Luther are cool. No wonder the Church is losing members.
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