How genuine is our sorrow until we're caught out?

By Fr Michael Commane - The Way I See It

Published 22/10/2016 | 00:00

While the most sophisticated jets ever made drop their bombs over Syrian cities, particularly Aleppo, the United States of America prepares for its November elections. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton slug it out. It's not a pretty show. While they fight it out Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, does not know where Aleppo is.

The now infamous tape of the Donald telling his buddies, using foul language, what he can do with and to women, has orbited the world many times over. What a nasty piece of work he is. But it fits. It complements a lot of the other nasty things he has been saying: Mexican thieves and rapists and Muslim undesirables.

If it weren't so sad it would be hilariously funny. To think that millions of people will vote next month to put this man in the White House is scary. At the Republican convention that elected him to be the party's presidential candidate a middle-aged woman said that she was voting for him because he was a man with great family values.

What was particularly noteworthy was how the Donald apologised for his 'locker room language'. It's an interesting term. What at all goes on in locker rooms? The apology reminds me of an episode fadó fadó in the US soap 'Dallas'. JR Ewing was up to trickery but was caught by his wife. He apologises and she quips that the only reason he apologised was because he was caught. Of course the only reason he says he's sorry is because he was found out. I can't imagine the Donald voluntarily apologising for a wrong-doing if we didn't already know about it. This is the same man who wants to build a wall between the US and Mexico in order to keep out undesirables. Maybe he needs to build a high wall around himself.

It's the same story with the whole sad affair of clerical child sex abuse. If it had never become public knowledge the churches would never have uttered a word of apology. Even worse, church authorities did their damnedest to keep it all quiet. Is all the profuse apologising a result of having been found out?

Last week in Germany there was another example of hypocrisy. The Rosenburg Report was published, which gives a tiny glimpse into how in postwar Germany so many former Nazi officials walked into top State jobs. The former Nazis managed to protect one another and they were in a position to keep everything under the carpet. Most were never uncovered. On the other hand, the German State has been exemplary in trying to make amends for the barbarous evil of National Socialism.

There was a line in the Gospel reading at Mass on Wednesday of last week: 'A curse is on you Pharisees, for you love the best seats in the synagogues and to be greeted in the market place.' It reminded me of the Trumps of this world. People thinking they deserve a special spot in the limelight. And then when they're caught the apology is the cure-all.

But in a way, isn't it something we all try. We do wrong, no-one hears about it so we stay stum. If we are found out we might own-up and say we are sorry. How genuine is our sorrow? But it is different from the carry on of the Pharisees, postwar Nazis church apparatchicks and the Trumps of this world. Or is it?

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