April 19, 2005 Edition > Section: New York > Printer-Friendly Version

Decree by Pope The Last Word On Priesthood

April 19, 2005
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/12435

John Bugler, a Long Island resident who ran for the State Assembly last year, filled me in on his trip to Rome for the papal funeral. In spite of numerous obstacles to his pilgrimage, it appears that divine providence landed him a spot at St.Peter's Square for the momentous occasion. Long train trips, a missed wakeup call, and closed-off streets might have dissuaded a less committed traveler, but not Mr. Bugler. He made a mad dash toward the square at the same time a tardy cardinal was rushing to it. The cardinal thought Mr. Bugler was his bodyguard. Guards allowed both the cardinal and Mr.Bugler through the barricades, and Mr. Bugler was able to witness what is believed to be the largest funeral ceremony in modern history.

It was only fitting that this man from Oakdale was part of the historic event, for back in the 1980s Mr. Bugler was involved in assisting the Solidarity movement in Poland.

Although Carl Bernstein wrote about it in a 1992 Time article called "Holy Alliance," not many people are aware of the role New York unions played in getting help to the fledgling union behind the Iron Curtain. With the assistance of Lane Kirkland and Harry Van Arsdale of the AFL-CIO and other union leaders, Mr. Bugler and his group were able to change the cargo manifests of equipment sent to Poland. Shipments of cell phones, radio transmitters, copiers, and fax machines were mislabeled as musical instruments or other innocent items and routed to Solidarity, which had gone underground after martial law was invoked in 1981.

The Polish people regarded John Paul II as the vanguard of their freedom from totalitarianism. "The other important factor in the eventual triumph over communism," Mr. Bugler said, "was the moral fiber and character of Ronald Reagan." Mr. Bugler said that had Reagan died of his wounds on March 30, 1981, communism would still be a force to be reckoned with.

Mr. Bugler is certainly a genuine admirer of Pope John Paul II, and St. Peter's Square was filled with hundreds of thousands of equally devoted followers of the pontiff. The network coverage of the funeral was unprecedented, and even non-Catholics rose early on Friday morning to watch the solemn Mass.

I, however, was preoccupied with the death of my niece, Tara Baez, who had lost her battle with ovarian cancer earlier in the week. I had visited her viewing at Grace Chapel in Brooklyn, and while it was heartrending to see the young mother of two looking serenely beautiful, as she lay in her casket it was also gratifying to note that the room was filled with loving relatives and friends.

I caught a repeat of the pope's funeral on C-Span in its entirety,and while many commentators on the other networks remarked on the ritual beauty of the services, I found it not unlike the other funeral masses I've attended for Catholics less noteworthy than the pope.

Catholic feminist critics of the services wasted no time in posting their grievances on the Internet. Anne Eggebroten writes in Women's eNews:

"But one question haunts many of us: Where are the women in this drama? Not among the cardinals who marched in red and will meet next Monday to elect the next pope. Not among the 320 priests who fanned out to give the Eucharist to the faithful assembled in St. Peter's Square for the pope's memorial mass."

In her essay Ms. Eggebroten notes that women were part of the service, reading from the Acts of the Apostles and the prayers of the faithful. She writes, "Women didn't get to play even these bit parts 60 years ago.The old boys' club was even more exclusive then."

Tell me, Ms. Eggebroten, why do I remember all the nuns in my life and so few of the priests?

Ms. Eggebroten imagines that in another 60 years, Catholic women will be ordained as priests, as they are now in many other faiths. Sorry, but "it ain't gonna happen." The man entombed April 8 spoke as definitively as possible on this issue and even decreed that Catholics should not discuss the matter.The case therefore is closed.

But that won't stop the CINOs (Catholics in name only) from insisting that they know better than St. Peter's successor how the church should function and rule on faith and morals. When they espouse modern societal choices as compatible with the teachings of Christ, they lack the fundamental virtue that signals a true believer.

It's a quality that the pilgrims who slept on the ground at St. Peter's Square,and a man who raced alongside a cardinal for a glimpse at the service, have plenty of: humility.

April 19, 2005 Edition > Section: New York > Printer-Friendly Version