The Pope and The Titanic

The anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic was April 12 and the Pope arrived by an Alitalia chartered jet on April 15. Why do I make a connection between the two?

(Ok, so it’s a picture of The Queen Mary in 1956 and not the Titanic. But, it’s the only ship photo where I own the copyright. Yes, I’m that old. So, just pretend it’s the Titanic, OK?)

An article in the NY Times on Tuesday talked about new evidence supporting an old theory of why the unsinkable ship sank to the bottom.

“Researchers have discovered that the builder of the Titanic struggled for years to obtain enough good rivets and riveters and ultimately settled on faulty materials that doomed the ship, which sank 96 years ago Tuesday.”

It went on to highlight that it was “a deadly mix of low quality rivets and lofty ambition” that sank the ship. It’s a phrase that kept going through my mind on April 15th as I watched news coverage of the Pope’s arrival.

The evidence of the Titanic’s demise also showed that the powers that be knew before, well before, as the ship was being built, in fact, that there was a problem with the quality of the rivets as well as the quality of the riveters being employed.

An archivist has unearthed a paper trail of meetings. The ship had three million rivets holding it together. Those rivets that have been recovered by divers over the years from the vessel itself are forensic evidence and testimony to the poor quality.

This has long been a theory, and after an equally long silence, the company is now denying it outright. Its spokesman said “There was nothing wrong with the materials.”

Stop and wave, people of Boston, if you are connecting the faulty rivets of the Titanic with the defective clergy and bishops of the Catholic church.

I’m waving. I’m old enough to remember the Queen Mary, fifty foot seas, and Cardinal Law in the early nineties, when the sexual abuse scandal was breaking news. He pointed his bejeweled finger at the media and if memory serves, even called down God’s wrath on to them.

All the while he was directing the divine lightning bolts at “The Boston Globe”, he knew full well that he himself had authorized known pedophile priests to move to other parishes to continue to abuse children. There was this small matter of a paper trail that ultimately was unearthed and that led to his resignation from the Archdiocese of Boston.

The current Pope spoke in English on his Pope Jet to reporters who had been allowed to submit questions for review in writing. He is quoted as saying that he was “deeply ashamed” of the sexual abuse scandal.

So, I read the Pope’s remarks as I do those from the shipbuilding firm of the Titanic, Harland and Wolff, in Belfast, Ireland. They regret deeply, I’m sure, the loss of 1500 lives long ago on a moonlit night in icy waters, “but there was nothing wrong with the materials.”

The Pope is deeply ashamed. I believe him. And, I believe that he should be ashamed about a few more things. Namely, that he and church hierarchy still don’t get it. Cardinal Law fled Boston on a flight to Rome to the open arms of the Vatican and a papal apartment to hang his soggy ol’ red hat. He’s still there.

Two billion dollars paid out to sexual abuse victims proves that these spiritual leaders can acknowledge legal jeopardy with the laws of man, but still no acknowledgement of the true moral jeopardy within.


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