DEACON DAN'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE
Citizens!/Consider my traveling expenses. Mayakovsky
Recently The Lay Pulpit blog featured two posts about "One Hand's" latest money-wasting junket to lovely, sunny Old Mexico -- an early spring getaway coming hard on the heels of his latewinter vacation to gorgeous, summertime Argentina. (The links are here and here.) We Readers wonder when the cash-strapped zombie culties at SGG are going to insist that enough is enough. As the blogger noted, there was no need for Dannie to make a run for the border. México lindo already has an embarrassment of episcopal riches. Besides, as everyone knows, the priests could have performed the confirmations themselves.
But we all realize these trips are not about the spiritual good of the faithful, either in the U.S. or abroad. They're all about thetheology of self-interest. "One-Hand Dan" anguishes daily as his prestige diminishes stateside. He can feel the searing contempt. The snide whispers burn his ears. He winces at the sneers, the dirty looks. His own doubts loom like menacing shadows in the cemetery of his perished respectability. However, rather than reform, he heads south to rebuild his wrecked sense of self-worth through unneeded, unproductive, and costly foreign travel. We call it his apostolate of self-pity cum ego-state therapy.
You see, Dan's trying to make himself believe he's a well-loved, highly regarded, globe-trotting Catholic bishop(?) -- someone with status and purpose, not the despised plebeian failure he, in fact, is. Never mind that in one pueblito there were only eight confirmands. His Neediness must have, at any cost, consolation for all the well-earned disrespect Americans show him at every turn. And what could be better for wounded self-esteem than a colorful, noisy village fiesta so he can pretend he's Quetzalcoatl come home to roost in all his amaranthine plumage?
The travel might be justified if the Mexican chapels were paying the expenses. However, as The Lay Pulpit wrote, that's highly unlikely. We agree. We know Mexico. Traditionalist chapels down there are generally poor. The faithful who assist are the salt of the earth, but their cash resources are constrained. As a rule, it's all they can manage just to keep up their little chapels. Their priests often count on gringo patronage for extra cash in the form of Mass stipends or direct gifts. A bi-coastal, whirlwind tour with a leisurely sojourn for a few lazy days of grazing in the sprawling, cosmopolitan capital would have placed an intolerable financial burden on the locals.
Therefore, it makes sense to infer that U.S. culties got stuck with the tab. What a coincidence, considering all the latest news stories about Novus-Ordite episcopal excess. Just last week, Papa Bergoglio fired that free-spender of the laity's money, the infamous German Bishop of Bling. And how about the Atlanta archbishop's apology for his unconscionable extravagance? Maybe it's time the tapped-out "Gertrudians" take a close, long, emotionless look at the travel costs of SW Ohio'sWinter-Weary Wandering Bishop(?).
Perhaps our own managerial experiences in reviewing expense accounts can guide the SGG lay auditors. For the sake of brevity, we'll confine ourselves to His Vagrancy's sightseeing tour in Mexico City, Distrito Federal (D.F.). To be sure, His Errancy was mighty coy in his account. Nevertheless, we'll hazard a few guesses so "Gertrudians" can squeeze out the facts when they demand an accounting for this latest sun-kissed escapade.
Let's read what "One Hand" actually has to say about his arrival in monumental México De Efe (our emphasis):
There we were met by a Chilean priest, our old friend Fr. Mardones, and by Fr. Martin Gomez of Acapulco, now Dos Rios. We had dinner at an excellent Argentinean restaurant, consuming copious quantities of meat, as is the custom in these southern countries, even in Lent! We’re one of the few countries that do keep Lent and I’m happy to get back to it.The first set of questions "Gertrudians" should ask is, "Who is/are WE?" Is it the "papal we," or did Dannie bring along Fr. Hernán of Baja? And who paid for Father's flight, and was it round-trip?
The second set is, where did Dannie stay in Mexico City, how much did it cost, and where did the money come from?
"One Hand's" remark about the Argentine restaurant may be a clue. The churrasquerías we know in D.F. are located invery upscale Polanco, the capital's Beverly Hills. In fact, both the Rincón Argentino and Camabalache are situated on Avenida Presidente Masaryk, Polanco's answer to Rodeo Drive. Mexico City is immense, so it might be likely that His Voraciousness opted to dine in the same high-priced neighborhood as his hotel.The third is, who paid for the lodgings of the priests Hernán (if he accompanied Deacon Dan), Mardones, and Gómez, and where did they stay? In the same hotel as Wee Dannie? If they lodged on His Prodigality's nickel, how much did the bill total? ("Gertrudians" should check for room service and mini bar charges.)
The fourth question is, what was the entire cost for food and beverages during the Mexico City tour?
The fifth question is, how much money did His Munificency hand out to the priests, either by way of stipends or subventions?
Mind you, these are questions relating solely to His Profligacy'sholiday in the Mexican capital. They don't address other expenditures, such as the side trip to Puebla (about 70 miles away from D.F.) or the time in Baja and Dos Rios. We'll leave the formulation of those questions to the "Gertrudians." Once they get on a roll, there'll be no stopping 'em!
While they're holding His Spendthriftiness to account for his spree in the capital, "Gerties" shouldn't miss the opportunity to reprimand him for setting so bad an example by "consuming copious quantities of meat" during Lent. From Dining Dan's remarks, it sounds as though His Peckishness may well have ordered the parillada (mixed grill), a carnivore's gluttonous fantasy come-to-life: a super-sized platter groaning with thick blood sausages, plump chorizo, moist sweetbreads en brochette, juicy short ribs glistening with fat, char-broiled beef tenderloin, and several giant cuts of succulent, barbecued steak (perhaps washed down with a half-dozen icy bottles of Rojita, Mexican red pop).
Just imagine what a stomach-turning spectacle this motley dining party offered to the refined, elegant clientèle of exclusive and chic Polanco: a pack of ill-bred, chow-hound sede clergy boisterously gnawing their way through steaming piles of grilled carnage.
The ugliest part about it all is the Mexican government's anti-clerical policy. As a result, many educated élites have contempt for the Church. The sight of a norteamericano, grinning like a village idiot, accompanied by a posse of lip-smacking, palm-rubbing native clergy, pigging out during a season of penance would only have confirmed the official propaganda about religion and its unworthy ministers. A shame and a pity that His Pettifoggery resorted to crass legalism to dodge the soul-purifying sacrifices of Lent.
No one forced His Excessiveness to forsake the pious mortification we practice in the U.S. Leaving the country didn't automatically require him to leave U.S. Lenten practice behind as well. He could very easily have chosen not to take advantage of the relaxed discipline of a foreign land. Indeed, it would seem he had an obligation to remain faithful to the spirit of the season so as to demonstrate his solidarity with the hollow-eyed "Gerties" back home, who were left to slurp their thin, vegetarian soup. Most of the low-class cultie "rite-trash" can't afford de luxe spring vacations south of the Tropic of Cancer, where the rules are mitigated. However, instead of embracing sacrifice, His Non-Observancy elected to gorge himself on "copious quantities of meat" in front of a well-heeled but silently mocking crowd of his social superiors.
His Extravagancy also missed an opportunity to edify the Mexican priests who formed his ravenous entourage. Restraint on his part might have pricked their consciences. Contrary to what he suggests, not all Mexican or South American priests treat Lent with such scandalous contempt. Father Jaime Siordia, well accustomed to the austerities of the Italian seminary where he was trained, is known to keep Lent faithfully, giving his fellow countrymen a shining example of priestly self-control. Other Latin American clergy we know are equally observant.
The Bottom Line for the "Gerties" is this: The money His Wastefulness squandered on his silly adventure would have been better spent making repairs to the crumbling SGG infrastructure. Dannie doesn't need to travel: the only reason priests outside the cult suffer his presence is to get a handout and a free lunch. So...the next time Gold-Digging Dannie starts passing the hat when something needs a-fixin' at the shabby SW Ohio cult center, just say NO!
His Opulency obviously has got cash to burn.