A chauffeured limo bearing Vatican diplomatic plates glided down the Via della Conciliazione to St. Peter’s Basilica slickly like a presidential motorcade. It avoided the main entrance used mainly by pilgrims and tourists; but veered to the right.
Ten minutes later, Bishop Rotich walked the long corridors to the papal chambers. They were vast, with floor-to-ceiling oak doors, red carpet – that back at home was a bone of contention by the prime minister and the president – polished marble tiles and sparkling chandeliers.
He knocked on the double doors and a prelate yanked them open.
The pope was there, seated behind his golden desk, seemingly in deep thought. The pope rose from his seat to receive him and Bishop Rotich knelt, more of a curtsy than the customary Catholic practice, and kissed the pope’s fisherman’s ring. “Holy Father.”
“Bishop, thanks for coming so promptly.”
Bishop Rotich got to his feet. “At your service, Holy Father.”
Pope Leo XXIII gestured for Bishop Rotich to sit. “I am certain you know why you were summoned?”
The bishop said nothing but looked at the pope.
“I think you understand what you’ve already caused the church – shame, disgrace, disrepute – with your ‘The
Truth Should be Told’ crusade. Well, the rock of the church stood the test of time for over 2000 years. What makes you think you could shake that?
“You have even gone to the point of questioning the pope’s – my – infallibility. These secrets you purport to tell the world, have you thought of what they would do to the church?”
Bishop Rotich frowned, but said nothing.
“Revelations of such magnitude to the public would do great harm and havoc to the church than meets the eye. Rev. Bishop, the past is better left buried, as it has been, for with the dead is everything dark, grave and dangerous. Don’t open the Pandora’s Box.”
“Have you no courage, Holy Father? The faith of over 2000 years can’t be shaken by startling truth. In any case, it should be strengthened.”
“I get it that you are not willing to stop your lunatic rave. Despite the warnings Mother Church has given you, you’ve continued with your insane allegations.”
Bishop Rotich felt pain like a sword piercing his heart. To the world he was a whistleblower, to the church he was a heretic, a traitor; but to him he was the shrewd servant of God. He was telling the world things kept from them by the church, secrets closely protected by the Catholic Church dating back to the time of Christ, Vatican’s amorous scandals – financial and moral – cult worship and all. The Catholic Church was either doomed, or its faith was going to be stronger than ever.
“With all due respect, Holy Father, I intent no harm to the church; however, don’t you think how hypocritical we are, telling people to confess their sins to us, reveal their dark secrets to us whence we don’t confess ourselves, and are custodians of dangerous secrets?
“And all these trapping of power? Christ Himself was a poor tramp with nowhere to lay His head. But look – all this vast wealth, do you really need it, Holy Father? We live in mansions of human anguish, crowned with pomp and live in gilded rooms while the flocks we shepherd languish in poverty.
“In your life, Holy Father, have you ever stayed awake the whole night with a sick child, his fever on the highs, hoping to get a cent to buy medicine, only to be told a God who lives somewhere unreachable wants you to offer Him money or whatever so that you could be blessed? No, I guess no! The offertory we tell people to offer pays for this opulence. Do you ever think of how many people go hungry just to bring that cent because the vicar said God wants them to do so?”
“Bishop, Mother Church has a reputation to preserve, status and traditions to maintain.”
“Don’t you think it’s time this charade stopped?”
“You leave me no choice, Bishop,” Pope Leo said opening a drawer of his ornate desk. He took a sealed envelope with the Papal Seal on it and handed it over to Bishop Rotich.
“I know it is not my responsibility to do this, but I have to. That’s why I asked to see you personally. I hoped, against all hope, to change your mind. But I guess we’re done here, Bishop. You are excommunicated.”
Bishop Rotich felt a jolt of electricity go through him. “Excommunicated?”
“As of now, the Roman Catholic Church does not recognize you. You know the rest.”
Copyright ©Vincent de Paul, 2013.