The pope's butler?
Yep. The latest news is that one Paolo Gabriele, official butler to Pope Benedict XVI, has been arrested and is charged with stealing secret documents from the pope's desk.
The mind boggles.
After all the self-imposed indignities and embarrassments the Roman Catholic Church has endured in recent years – the government of Ireland is practically at war with the Vatican over child abuse – the latest headlines involve a butler.
It was Karl Marx, I think, who first noted that history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce.
It has just been a weird few months.
Where to start?
How about tragedy? To me, the most tragic story in the whole panoply of bad news came earlier this year in Phoenix, Arizona, when Bishop Thomas Ohlsted excommunicated a nun, Sister Margaret McBride. She was a member of the ethics committee at a Catholic hospital and the committee was asked to consider the plight of a Catholic mother who needed an abortion to save her life. The fetus involved was deemed incapable of life and the mother was deemed unable to survive without the abortion. The committee allowed the procedure to, well, proceed.
But abortion is never acceptable under any circumstances, Bishop Ohlsted noted, thus making clear that, in his mind, the church treasures doctrine more than it treasures human life.
Or, we could look at the strange case of the Girl Scouts.
The bishops of the United States are now investigating the Girl Scouts to see if the 2.3 million member organization might be too liberal. One fear – denied by the Girl Scouts – is that the organization has secret ties to Planned Parenthood.
Or, the nuns.
The Vatican – almost surely at the instigation of American bishops – has taken on the Leadership Conference for Women Religious, the largest group representing American nuns, putting the organization essentially into a receivership overseen by a bishop and charging the nuns with being overrun by radical feminists.
Or, the battle for “religious freedom.”
It seems the Obama Administration as part of the new health care law is requiring insurance companies to cover contraception free of charge. That's already the case in many states, including Wisconsin, but, this time, the church hierarchy has decided it is a matter of religious freedom, that the church has the right to deny birth control coverage to any of its employees, including non-Catholics who work in schools or hospitals that are related to the church.
It's the biggest issue going. I listen to “Relevant Radio,” the Catholic network based in Wisconsin, and the best its commentators can do is to compare President Obama to Stalin. The worst comes from an Illinois bishop who warns Obama is leading us down the road to Hitler.
And, then, there's the butler.
Honest to God.