Jackass for the Hour: Chapter 23 – So, that’s your problem?
As Father Alexámenos and Rabbi Shelomoh continued to speak, the Muhammadan, no longer listening, sent his email to Shaykh al-Husayn, a member of what had for a long time been Europe’s largest Mosque and Cultural Centre, built with Saudi oil money near the Vatican so as to spit on Pope Saint Pius V’s ‘Rosary Victory’ over the Muhammadans at Lépanto, during the height of the Ottoman Empire, just after Elizabeth I of England was excommunicated.
Shaykh al-Husayn was well placed, being Albanian by birth, Catholic by Baptism, Muslim by apostasy, and ‘advisor’ by professional history in the Arabian peninsula. He was a ‘trophy convert’ on show. Brilliant at public relations and proselytism, he gave school children praying-tours of the mosque, delighting in ‘catechising’ them in Islam as they bowed down to Allah. His belligerently anti-Catholic attitude upset Catholic students of interreligious dialogue, which is not easy to do.
Shaykh al-Husayn read the email which he had just received from the flight to Rome. He would have deleted it had it not confirmed what was just coming on the television screen in his office. The news report included the images of Father Alexámenos, complaining that he was already on a flight to Rome. He was being accused of fleeing justice. The email was from a member of the mosque, and gave the details of the flight number, something the television reports had not yet done. The email mentioned the news report about Haïti, but centred on the discussion Father Alexámenos was having with one whom the Muhammadan had mistakenly taken to be the Chief Rabbi of Rome. “Can you not do something about the interference of this priest?” asked the Muhammadan in his email. “He is inciting Jews and Catholics to declare war on Muslims, as if we all lived in Jericho when it was taken more than three thousand years ago. Since Italy and the Holy See treat Islam nicely, it’s easy to put pressure on them, especially for you. He’s to be punished for his crimes in Haïti, and then suffer the punishment for his words against Islam.”
Shaykh al-Husayn clicked on the audio file sent with the email. He knew Hebrew better than the Jews, he thought. He listened in disbelief as he heard the priest describe his understanding of the Qur’anic version of Abraham’s would-be child-sacrifice of his son and, then, the Rabbi’s question about whether or not the continuing slaughter of the Palestinians was divinely mandated to this day. Shaykh al-Husayn sat back in his chair. He decided not to respond to the email. He did, however, like the idea about making an official protest. This had to be handled by diplomats in Saudi Arabia in conjunction with the other Arab states. Involving the one they thought was the Chief Rabbi of Rome was too dangerous to ignore, especially since this Rabbi was such good friends with Pope Tsur-Ēzer, also a Jew. “After all,” he thought, “if Jews and Christians want another crusade…” A wave of anger overwhelmed Shaykh al-Husayn, which was followed by a wave of regret, for so many might die fighting a crusade.
That Father Alexámenos had stayed in the Catholic Nunciature made matters worse. Even a CIA agent was volunteering information on the television about Father Alexámenos. Shaykh al-Husayn thought it looked like preemptive damage control. The agent called Father Alexámenos stupid for having taken the liquor he gave to him, which was only meant to pry information out of the priest about the priest himself. Despite it being past midnight, Shaykh al-Husayn rang the diplomats in Saudi Arabia, now his longtime friends. They contacted the diplomats of the Arab League countries, and had a good laugh at the expense of the Holy See. All these diplomats knew from experience how easy it was to manipulate situations to get whatever they wanted from the Vatican. They would not let on immediately that they knew very well that the real Chief Rabbi, although a friend of the Pope, had never left Rome, and had nothing to do with Rabbi Shelomoh, who was, for them, a nobody. They wanted to smear both Judaism and Christianity in one stroke. The Chief Rabbi’s denial would be useless. They rang the Cardinal Secretary of State. To his credit, he took their call, ignoring the Envoy to the Arab League. They said their communication was a courtesy, but knew they would be taken seriously. “This priest is a symbol of a corrupt and blasphemous West,” they said.
Shaykh al-Husayn then rang the Ambassador of Arāk, Shaykh al-Hasan, whose response put Shaykh al-Husayn on edge: “The mosquitos shall arrive on the island soon.”
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“So, in effect,” said the Rabbi, drawing conclusions for Father Alexámenos, “you think that there was no progressive Revelation with the Hebrew Scriptures, that Abraham, in his own day, saw Christ, so that Christ said with truth: ‘Before Abraham was, I Am.’” He again pretended to be offended.
“I believe,” said Father Alexámenos, “that although the fulness of Revelation must necessarily be seen in the Messiah, God Himself, the Revelation leading up to Him was not deficient morally or doctrinally. The Holy Spirit did not make mistakes in progressively teaching Abraham’s children, by successive Covenants, how to assent more profoundly to the supernatural Faith that they have already fully been given from on high. The Holy Spirit had the power to inspire men to write what He wanted to be written. The heretics project their own deficiency onto Revelation when they say it is deficient. They insult Jews and Christians, and blaspheme the Holy Spirit.”
“Your ‘Catholics’ do that,” interjected the Rabbi, “because they fear to speak about the fact that Isaac could not be sacrificed for the good of mankind. If they spoke about this, they would have to mention that Isaac was useless as a sacrifice since he also was a son of Adam, corrupted by Adam’s sin, as you would have it. Hardly innocent, then, he couldn’t take the place of mankind by taking on death, the just punishment we deserve for sin, since he was corrupted himself. In that your Catholic theologians and Scripture scholars would have to admit that there is such a thing as sin and therefore a need for redemption and therefore a need for a Redeemer and therefore a need to change their ways even over against that which politically correct in a fallen human society. Your ‘Catholics’ do not want to admit that the children of Jericho and of the Amalekites could be and were sacrificed to demonstrate precisely the consequences of Adam’s sin. Your ‘Catholics’ cannot bear to mention that Jesus was sacrificed because he was not subject to Adam’s sin. Only He was the fitting, innocent sacrifice vicariously able to suffer the punishment meant for the rest of us, and, having taken on the justice we deserve, only He could ask that the Father be merciful: “Father, forgive them…” Your ‘Catholics’ cannot believe that Jesus was and, for you, is the only one who can be the innocent ransom for the just requirements of the punishment of sin for the reason that they cannot even face up to the brutality of the world we live in from Adam until today. They are cowards.”
“In their cowardice,” replied Father Alexámenos, “they lust after child-sacrifice by way of chemical ‘morning-after’, ‘date rape’, ‘Plan B’ abortions provided at their ‘Catholic’ hospitals. A negative pregnancy test provides the green light. But no test can account for conception taking place within hours of intercourse. The bishops know it happens, but want to continue to congratulate themselves with insurance money funnelled to them through national and state programmes. Since there are so many Judas priests, Rome remains silent, except to say that it is a lesser of two evils to receive thirty pieces of silver though ‘one’ child dies for the hospital.”
“Since you are so very Catholic,” prodded the Rabbi with some intensity, used to always jacking up the stakes with his well-chosen interlocutors, “tell me what your fellow Catholics think about the child-sacrifice which fills the Jewish Scriptures.”
“Well,” began Father Alexámenos, taking a deep breath, “I suppose that for each commentator who praises Abraham for believing that God would immediately raise Isaac from the dead, there are a thousand who mumble something about a deficient revelation. And with Jericho, it’s just not possible to find someone who doesn’t simply dismiss the historicity of the account by laughing so hard that he avoids commenting on the violence. ‘Does the community that wrote that passage think that we, the readers, are such fools as to think that the walls of the city fell down because of trumpet music?’ That’s what they say. I’ve heard it. They are such cowards. And when Samuel tells Saul to kill the Amalekites, men and women, young and old, even babies – in 1 Samuel 15,3, just like in Jericho – condemnations of the inspired Jewish author and, in effect, of God, are easy to find. Look at the relevant note in the old New American Bible of the American Bishop’s Conference on the Vatican website. Effectively, it denies Adam’s sin. I even remember one exegete reducing such violence to a metaphor of psychological catharsis, but if that kind of symbolism is healthy, it must be rejuvenating to carry it out in reality, even today, but such a psychological interpretation is evidence of real illness.”
“In other words, they are afraid of reality,” concluded the Rabbi, “as all heretics are.”
“I’m happy to hear you finally use the ‘H’-word for them,” replied Father Alexámenos. “Heresy changes one’s appreciation of morality. When God commanded Samuel to tell Saul to slaughter the Amalekites, it was a good and holy thing, as is all that God does, then as now. We are not to despise God, or think we are above Him, or that we ourselves have progressed beyond those of the past. The Amalekites of the past stare us in the face and scream out to us, ‘Look and see just how serious is the Redemption wrought for all of us by the Messiah to come! Let no one oppose His mercy as we, the Amalekites, had opposed the Chosen People! Appreciate the command God gave to the Jews to slaughter us, which God also gave for the benefit of our instruction and yours, or, if you are going to despise God Himself, go ahead and die in your sin!’ Rabbi, the only reason God no longer commands us to do these things today is because the Messiah has come; He is the fulness of the pedagogy concerning the gravity of sin. He took the fulness of the just punishment due to sin upon Himself, thus having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.”
“I am impressed that you don’t throw away our Scriptures,” said the Rabbi. “Your Synods on Scripture are frustrated with the Word of God, with certain sections of the Book of Kings with the Chronicles, with the extermination of the peoples who lived in the Holy Land. I also think of our own cowardly torture and killing of so many today, but I am not convinced.” He continued eating.
“This wasn’t just a dream,” said Father Alexámenos after some moments. “It is my Faith.”
With that, the Rabbi put his fork down, and insisted, “I am tired of the Roman Curia saying everything is nice the way it is. It isn’t. I think the reason they think everything is nice is because they have no capacity to speak to us about the meaning of child-sacrifice beyond Isaac. They never speak of Jericho or the Amalekites. They never mention the Sacrifice of the Mass as you call it.”
“You certainly do have an intense interest in the Holy Sacrifice,” said Father Alexámenos.
“If we are to believe in Christ,” asserted the Rabbi, “it will be because of the Gospel of John, chapter six. Show us that you love us. Don’t hide what you hold to be true from us.”
“It is our Heavenly Father who sends His Son to us as a Sacrifice,” said Father Alexámenos.
“But how can you say our Heavenly Father?” pressed the Rabbi.
“In fact, my elder brother, it is not that you do not have the Faith in the Messiah as if you should convert from some pagan religion. My point of view must be that you are not to convert as if you were a Muslim, but rather, for you, it is simply the veil that is to be lifted, so that you can see the beauty of what you have already been given, as Saint Paul says, the Sonship, the Glory, the Covenants, the Law, the Worship, the Promises, the Patriarchs and, according to the flesh, the very Christ of God.”
The Rabbi was moved by this answer, but defiantly replied, “I have a litmus test, which is that a certain person will prove to me that he means what he says about child-sacrifice. You don’t count. Politics are important this time. The question is deadly serious. Jews are killing Muslims who are killing Jews. East is killing west and north is killing south… and vice versa. Catholics are blamed, but Catholics don’t even know who they are.”
“So, that’s your problem?” asked Father Alexámenos.
“What do you mean?” asked the Rabbi.
“You are scandalised that so many Catholics are not Catholic,” replied Father Alexámenos.
“If it were only that, I would have to become Catholic like Tsur-Ēzer,” said the Rabbi, “for one’s salvation comes from God, not others. If others do not accept God, I am still responsible before God for myself. Yet, that is always my litmus test. I catch you Catholics out, not in the sense that you are sinners – we are all weak – but in the sense that they just don’t believe what they say. Show me a Catholic who believes in Child-Sacrifice, specifically, in Jesus, the Son of God, laying down His life in obedience to our Heavenly Father, a Catholic, then, who doesn’t spit on the morality in the Hebrew Scriptures, and I will show you a Rabbi who is becoming a Catholic.”
“I do know someone who will make a profession of faith that…” Father Alexámenos started to object.
“I’m not talking about lip-service of taking a profession of faith!” exclaimed the Rabbi. “I can buy a catechism for that. I want someone who accepts the reality of Child-Sacrifice, what the Son of God has done.”
“Rabbi, it is always too hard for any of us, without God’s grace, to accept the Sacrifice of Jesus. That is why there must be this Redemption in the first place, the innocent for the guilty.”
“Give me a name!” insisted the Rabbi.
“Jesus’ Mother, Mary,” replied Father Alexámenos, “stood under the Cross of her only Son, watching Him being tortured, watching Him die. Her immaculate heart was one with her Son’s.”
“That’s cheating,” said the Rabbi. “I want someone that I can talk to here, on this earth.”
“The Holy Father, Tsur-Ēzer,” posited Father Alexámenos.
The Rabbi was taken aback, as if he had been discovered. He sat back in his seat, staring ahead of himself at nothing in particular. “Excuse me,” he said, getting up. “I need to stretch my legs.” The Rabbi walked the length of the aisles on both sides of the plane, staring at the floor the whole time, deep in thought. It was discussions on this topic which the Rabbi had had with his boyhood friend, Tsur-Ēzer, which carried his friend to the Catholic Church. Rabbi Shelomoh knew that the only reason why he himself had not gone along with his friend was that he wasn’t sure about Tsur-Ēzer’s sincerity, if he really believed what he said he believed. He wanted to see such Faith in action. It had struck him many times that he was projecting a lack of sincerity all too familiar to himself onto his friend, making Tsur-Ēzer responsible for his own Faith, but, since it was Tsur-Ēzer who become Catholic, he figured, the onus was on him to demonstrate his sincerity. The Rabbi would curse himself from time to time for his own inconsistency.
The Rabbi was waiting for an occasion to test Tsur-Ēzer. He wondered if he would sacrifice someone for the sake of political correctness. Of course, it was an impossible demand. “How could Tsur-Ēzer, now the Pope, be responsible for deciding whether or not someone would be sacrificed in this day and age for the sake of political correctness?” he asked himself. “How could he ever have the chance not to say – It is better that one man die for the people rather than that a whole nation should perish? – something Caiaphas did not hesitate to say.”
Yet, the Rabbi could not let go of his litmus test. It was not the inconveniences that his becoming Catholic would bring. The question was simply too big. He had to see Catholic Faith in action. It had to be Pope Tsur-Ēzer. “But how can such a situation come about?” he repeated. “The only way would be that the world would try to force the hand of the Pope to…” He did not finish this thought, finding himself again at his seat. “Excuse me,” said the Rabbi, sitting down.
While the Rabbi was away, Father Alexámenos had finished his meal and had thought about who the Rabbi could possibly be that so many in the Roman Curia were interested in him. Then the reality of the situation struck him. “You are Rabbi Shelomoh, are you not?” asked Father Alexámenos, staring at him intently. “You are close friends with the Holy Father, are you not? You have been friends with him since childhood. He became Catholic. You did not.” The Rabbi’s eyes widened, but he only stared in front of himself. “You will have your wish for your particular litmus test soon,” prophesied Father Alexámenos. “Your becoming Catholic is not far away.”
The Rabbi turned to him angrily, but then sighed, saying, “I have been waiting my entire life. But how do you know? Do you know Tsur-Ēzer? It all seems too incredible.”
“It will all start soon enough,” said Father Alexámenos. “We should never be in a position of regretting what we wished for. Pope Tsur-Ēzer will be sifted like wheat.”
“You speak too abstractly. I cannot accept what you have to say,” said the Rabbi.
Father Alexámenos said, “You will very soon be tempted to change your opinion of me… for the worse. Take that as a sign that your litmus test has begun.”
The Rabbi looked at him, astounded at what he hoped was merely the self-important audacity of the young priest, and got up once again to walk up and down the aisles of the plane, letting himself be distracted by the video monitors throughout the plane. He stopped dead. He saw the images of Father Alexámenos in Haïti. A passenger, whose chair he was leaning over, saw his interest and offered him his headset. Upon hearing the accusations, he returned the headset, dumbfounded. He walked to the rear of the plane, trying to take in the situation. Everyone was watching the images being played over and over again. Comments were being made in front of the Haïtian Parliament, the American Embassy and the Nuniature of the Holy See in Haïti, the Chancery of the Diocese of Marécage, and Fiumicino Airport in Rome, where the plane was to land, even in front of the obelisk in Piazza San Pietro. The reporters didn’t tire of explaining why they were pushing the story. It was not the sensationalistic pictures, voodoo and demon possession, but rather that the priest seemed to be fleeing from a diplomatic Nunciature of the Vatican to the Vatican itself.
The Rabbi was aghast. The priest who told him all he wanted to hear about the Catholic Faith and Judaism regarding child-sacrifice, and the priest who reminded him of his childhood conversations with the now reigning Pope, saying that the Pontiff would now be put through the litmus test he never thought would be possible, was the same priest he saw on the screens. “Or is he?” the Rabbi asked himself. He remembered that Father Alexámenos had said that he would be tempted to think differently of him very soon and that this would indicate that Pope Tsur-Ēzer was in the first stages of his litmus test. “Could this priest be part of something bigger than these accusations that they are playing up? Could these images be misrepresentations? Could the priest be the ‘child’ that Tsur-Ēzer would be pressured to sacrifice for the sake of political correctness?”
Suddenly all the screens in the plane went blank. “Obviously, they don’t want a riot on the plane should the passengers recognise him,” thought the Rabbi. “He doesn’t even know that these images have been shown. We shut the monitors off in our row of seats.”
He went back to sit down next to Father Alexámenos once again, trying to take in the fact that the priest might be telling the truth about Pope Tsur-Ēzer having to be put to the test. The Rabbi turned to him and said ever so quietly, “Father Alexámenos, it is not often that I have met someone whom I knew was soon to be a dead man because of the views that were expressed with rather too much clarity for the circumstances that they were in. I have always been right. This was usually in Israel. Unless Someone, blessed be His Name, decides differently, I am convinced that you are a dead man, more convinced than I was about the others. They were dealing with politics. You are speaking of Faith. Now, tell me. When you say that I will have my wish for my particular litmus test soon, and that this will involve Pope Tsur-Ēzer, will this also involve you in some way?”
“Before you reach home, you will have your answer,” said Father Alexámenos.
The stewardess came to their seats and picked up the meal trays, staring hard at Father Alexámenos and shaking her head as if to say, “Shame on you.”
“I already have my answer,” said the Rabbi. “I shall accompany you at the airport.”
Outside of the stewardess, no one seemed to recognise Father Alexámenos in the plane. Either they thought he could not be in their plane, or they knew it was dangerous to cause a commotion on the plane itself. The Rabbi closed his eyes, acting as if he was asleep. Instead, he was praying the psalms for Father Alexámenos, beginning with “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord…”
Father Alexámenos took the opportunity to take out his Liturgy of the Hour to recite the Jewish psalms for the Office of Readings and Morning prayer, after which he again fell asleep.
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The Holy Father asked Father Lia-Fáil, “Has Hash arrived yet?”
“I shall show him in,” said Father Lia-Fáil.
The Pope looked out the window at the Quirinal Palace in the distance. When he heard don Hash being led in, the Pontiff said, without turning around, “Tell Hash what you just told me.”
Father Lia-Fáil did so, describing the broadcast images of Father Alexámenos, and handing don Hash the brief personally delivered to the Secretary of State by the Ambassador of Arāk, Shaykh al-Hasan. He, along with the Arab League, demanded a trial with a pre-determined sentence, stating that the trouble making Rabbi had stepped over the line, adding that the Pope, by going along with the trial, would be able to demonstrate that he was not in collusion with the Rabbi over against Palestine.
The Pope let them think for a few moments, and then said, “What is your analysis of what is to be done, Lia-Fáil, in view of a world with little or no Faith? How could this have happened?”
“In regard to Haïti, that’s a question best asked of Cardinal Fidèle,” answered Father Lia-Fail. “He may very well know more about it than even père Jacques. In regard to a chance, private conversation between Father Alexámenos and Rabbi Shelomoh, well… I don’t think we know enough about what happened or what was actually said. We must wait.”
“And you, Hash?” asked the Holy Father.
“There are three kinds of damage control which the world expects to see,” replied don Hash, “though they will not be satisfied with any of these. It is easy to make Alexámenos into a scapegoat of all that is wrong in the world. They will want to kill him just as surely as they want to impose upon him all the mortal guilt they feel themselves. I know that in saying this, I am presuming his innocence, but, given his innocence, what is needed is an offensive strike.”
“You use the terminology of warfare,” said the Holy Father.
“We are at war,” replied don Hash. “Let me explain. If, on the one hand, on behalf of the Jews, children and Islam, you excommunicate Alexámenos for his imagined doctrinal heresy, moral impropriety and imprudence, the world would still want more than a legal penalty, not excluding his death, as Shaykh al-Hasan has made clear; they will want to curtail the activity of the Church. If, on the other hand, you speak of academic freedom for his conjectured heresy, and of mercy in the face of fallen human nature for his supposed moral decadence and imprudence, attempting to appease those who desire the ‘freedom’ to think and do as they please, the same result will follow since those who would be appeased are in a minority. If, finally, you decide to proceed with a policy of burning the truth by putting Father Alexámenos under house arrest, but then calling for ‘thorough investigations’ which will, however, take years, never coming to a conclusion, then sporadic persecution of the Church would be tolerated by the world community, and politicians would be intolerant of those not approving of persecution…”
“I, for one, am sick of damage control. I always have been,” interrupted Pope Tsur-Ēzer. “The only Way is to let the Living Truth speak. What is this offensive strike you mentioned?”
“Alexámenos has the grace to let the Lord speak through himself,” said don Hash.
“And so…?” asked the Holy Father.
“And so, pray and watch the trial proceed. The trial itself will be conducted by the Holy See, for this is most expedient to all the nations involved. It will never come to the options of damage control I mentioned, for the answers of Alexámenos will grind the trial to a halt.”
“Unless it is manipulated… if he is not allowed to speak,” said the Holy Father.
“We trust Christ,” concluded don Hash, “who said the Holy Spirit would speak through us.”
“But this is putting God to the test, is it not?” asked the Bishop of Rome.
“Not if it is Christ Jesus Himself who told us about this very type of trial,” concluded don Hash.
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Cardinal Fidèle pressed a long list of numbers on his phone in his apartment at San Calisto.
“Oui?” responded Archbishop Cromeu in Pétionville.
“My dear Nuncio,” said Cardinal Fidèle.
“Fidèle, what the hell were you thinking in sending us someone like Alexámenos?”
“I thought you might learn something from him, Cromeu.”
“I have no idea about his paper. What I do know, Fidèle, is that he’s dangerous. He’s too clearheaded. In one day he’s stirred up a riot outside the Nunciature, and he’s not even here.”
“Come now, Cromeu, a riot?” asked Cardinal Fidèle tauntingly. “Surely you exaggerate.”
“At first it was just a few reporters, but now, the poor have arrived. Turn on your television.”
“It is on, Cromeu, but I must say, I cannot tell if the poor people of whom you speak are for or against Alexámenos. What is clear is that they are against you.”
“Damn you, Fidèle!”
“Be nice!” reprimanded Cardinal Fidèle. “The last thing I expected was Jacques sending out such images in the way he did. But he’s your responsibility. You recommended him as dignissimus to be the next bishop in Haïti.” The Nuncio didn’t respond, so Cardinal Fidèle continued. “Alexámenos will surely be exonerated from such accusations. The press is merely having a little fun. They have sponsors waiting in line to pay them exorbitant amounts of money for advertising. It will pass.” The Cardinal said this knowing that it wasn’t true, not this time. But he needed to get more information for what he thought to be much more far reaching and enduring in its consequences. “Tell me,” he continued, “what did he say about his study?”
“I couldn’t tell you,” replied the Nuncio. “I didn’t understand a word. However, I can fax you my notes of the conversation. I made him sign it for verification in front of Archbishop Pòv.”
“You’re a much better diplomat than I thought, Cromeu, but I don’t see it yet.”
“See what yet?”
“Ee-aagghh, ee-aagghh,” Carpe Diem shouted at the top of his voice in Cardinal Fidèle’s apartment. “Ee-aagghh, ee-aagghh, ee-aagghh.”
“Have you gone mad, Fidèle? You sound like a damned jackass…”
“A yet to be canonised jackass,” replied Cardinal Fidèle.
“What?!” asked the Nuncio.
“I don’t yet see the fax you are sending me,” replied Cardinal Fidèle flatly.
“You’re very impatient, Fidèle… Here you go… Is it coming through?”
“Yes, thank you,” Cardinal Fidèle replied, pressing a button to terminate the call.
Cardinal Fidèle didn’t have to ask about the episcopal conferences of Haïti and the United States, which had already contacted Cardinal Elzevir, as had the Italian Episcopal Conference. The Italians were protesting that Father Alexámenos was a persona non grata in their territory. The embassies of Haïti and the United States in Italy were requesting a meeting. Haïti didn’t want Father Alexámenos extradited, only guarantees from the Holy See regarding his punishment. The United States government was not concerned about any abuse, but the complaints from the Arab world about the conversation between the priest and the Rabbi necessitated damage control. They had received a copy of the recording directly from the Ambassador of Arāk.
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The pilot announced they were flying over Rome and that the passengers on the right side of the plane would be treated to a bird’s eye view of the historical centre of the city. Father Alexámenos woke from his dream of his first Holy Communion and how happy his family had been. He looked out the window and saw the Aventine Hill where he had been staying, the Synagogue near Tiber Island – which he pointed out to the Rabbi – as well as San Calisto where he had given his paper to Cardinal Fidèle before Christmas. He saw Campo dei Fiori, where the statue of Giordano Bruno rose like a spectre near the Cancelleria of the Holy Roman Church. Across the river, he saw Castel Sant’Angelo, the buildings which housed the Pontifical Councils for the Promotion of Christian Unity and of Interreligious Dialogue, along with the various dicasteries of the Roman Curia. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was on the left side of the Piazza San Pietro and the Secretariat of State was on the right. He saw the obelisk, the Papal Apartments, the Basilica and, then, Mater Ecclesiæ convent in the gardens.
Up next: Chapter 24 – Is that the way a priest should act?
© International 2005-2018 – George David Byers