With Pope John Paul II ailing, Catholics are starting to think about the next pope. My choice? Marine Corps Lt. Gen. James Mattis, the crusty leatherneck now in trouble for saying that in war, it's fun to shoot bad guys.
The Marine general told his audience: "You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."
Whoa! That's a real man talking. OK, OK, I'm not serious about wanting the Marine Corps' Dirty Harry serving as the Vicar of Christ. Still, my church needs a leader who takes visceral satisfaction in delivering justice to bullies. If John Paul had pitilessly shot down the careers of molester-shuffling American bishops early on, the church would be a better place today.
"I loathe cruelty and injustice," Teddy Roosevelt once wrote to a friend. "To see a boy or man torture something helpless whether in the shape of a small boy or little girl or dumb animal makes me rage." It's fine to be conventionally virtuous, he said, but if these qualities are unsupported by "something more virile, they may tend to evil rather than good."
"The man who merely possesses these traits, and in addition is timid and shirks effort, attracts and deserves a good deal of contempt," wrote Mr. Roosevelt.
By that chivalrous understanding of manhood, we Catholic men – bishops, priests and laymen – are a pretty contemptible lot these days.
Rod Dreher is assistant editorial page editor of the Dallas news. His e-mail address is rdreher@dallasnews .com.
Read the entire article on the The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests website (new window will open). This article first appeared in the Dallas news.