This is an important blog. It contains an urgently important story.
The Church in Argentina is involved in a massive cover-up.
It has to be.
Apparently there are lots of angry people in Argentina who like to raise their voice publicly and violently on numerous political issues. It was the first thing that I noticed today as I went to the Cathedral de Metropolitana. The cathedral is covered with graffiti from angry Argentineans with messages that read “The Church has assassinated us.” And “Church genocide.”
Of course the Catholic Church has to be involved in a cover-up. It has to cover up all of the graffiti that line the exterior walls of the cathedral. The entire base of the walls are painted in a neutral, off color, about 3 meters/yards high so that the maintenance personal can easily come by every so often, and paint over the graffiti that has amassed in the past week/month. Honestly, the painted base is a bit ugly. It doesn’t match the rest of the building very well, but it seems to be the only way that the cathedral can retain its dignity with so many angry people in the city of Buenos Aires.
And there are many.
Today, in the Plaza de Mayo, in front of the cathedral, there was a political rally of a communist nature taking place. There were a lot of people with signs and megaphones shouting, passing out flyers, and otherwise being… angry, in a “lets-lay-around-in-the-sun-and-protest” sort of way. They were demonstrating on the plaza for the rights of workers. On the other side of plaza, stood a whole squadron of riot police, decked out with helmets, shields, and clubs, ready to act if the group ever stopped sun bathing and did something riotous.
As I waited for the sun to go behind some clouds so I could take some pictures of the cathedral, I thought to myself “Oh! So this is what the United States Department of State has written warnings recommending that I avoid. I’ll have to remember that in the future.” The biggest problem I faces was constantly declining flyers from the numerous people offering me information about the CCC, the Corriente Clasista y Combativa.
“No hablo español. Lo siento. No entiendo.” I kept repeating. Sometimes it is just easier to play “I’m a stupid American tourist” card than to get involved in local politics.
And though I’m not in Argentina to see the tourist sights, a pilgrim is, in a way, a tourist. I’m here to see things, and when I finally entered the cathedral to tour around, I became even more convinced of my initial observation, the Church in Argentina is involved in a cover-up.
Altars of silver, statutes of gold, beautiful paintings. Everywhere. This is a typical Spanish influenced cathedral. If you have downloaded Google Earth onto your computer you can view my pictorial of the cathedral by clicking here.
All this beauty and for what? What good is it doing? There is an angry mob out on the plaza fighting for human rights. They’re “doing something.” Mostly sitting around… but still they are “doing something.” Actually, the attendees of the political rally are probably the same people who wrote all the vulgarities in spray paint on the walls of the cathedral, but that is another story. They are the activist for the poor, and I’m in a cathedral with all of these elaborate monuments and cultish ceremonies. For what?
After Mass today, the cathedral remained mostly full. There was a priest who gave a talk to those gathered on “Catholic Social Teaching,” often called the Church’s “best kept secret.” It was a talk given to educate people about the constitutive call of the Gospel to live a just life for the benefit of the poor. He was hoping to animate the people, through the mysteries of the faith, into a life of action for justice.
That’s when it hit me. All of the statues, all the silver, all the gold, and all the paintings, are really just a cover-up. They “pretty up” the picture of what is most important. At the center of the Church is the death and resurrection of Christ, a mystery which enables men and women to be freed from the inequalities that have been formed in society, because of sin.
How ironic that the Plaza de Mayo was filled with angry people demanding justice, and in the heart of the cathedral, in the heart of the Church, people were gathered to deepen their awareness of their particular role in bringing about justice. Why can’t the two get together?
Probably because of the cover-up.
The purpose of the Church is not to build grandiose buildings. We build grandiose buildings so that we can protect what is most important. Unfortunately, some people get confused by the cover-up, and never really see into the heart of the Church.
There is however, a bit of good fortune for those of us who have discovered the secret that lies within. The riot police aren’t lined up for us. They’re lined up for the other group who sometimes gets selfishly out of hand.