THE CARDINAL WHO COULD NOT CRY
ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS ON THE MEDIA THE LATE CARDINAL CAHAL DALY SAID HE NEVER CRIED ?
I WROTE THE FOLLOWING PIECE FOR THE IRISH EDITION OF THE HOMELESS MAGAZINE THE BIG ISSUES
ONCE UPON A TIME there was a cardinal who couldn’t cry. Everyone called him Cardinal Dry Eyes. Cardinal Dry Eyes ruled over a vast kingdom of four million souls. His subjects affectionately called him “Eminence” and when they approached him they genuflected and kissed his hand.
The cardinal had everything a man could want. He had a big car, a chauffeur, a golden ring, a golden shepherd’s crook and many telephones and fax machines. He was invited to all the best parties and most months he travelled abroad as a VIP. Everyone gave him great respect and he had immense power.
But the cardinal was very sad. He couldn’t cry! He knew that a good cardinal should be able to cry. So he called together all the members of his court and promised great rewards to the man who could make him cry.
The Archdeacon approached the throne and in an attempt to bring tears to the prelate’s eyes told him of all the married couples in his kingdom who could not cope with large families and who had resorted to the crime of contraception. As a result they had been designated “mortal sinners”, were banned from receiving Holy Communion and would go to Hell when they died. “Many of these poor people”, said the Venerable Archdeacon, “are living lives scarred by guilt and rejection”. Cardinal Dry Eyes thought about these people for a short while. But still he couldn’t cry.
The Dean approached the throne. He told the cardinal of the 100,000 subjects in his kingdom who marriages had broken down and were living in unblessed “second unions”. “They live, Your Eminence, as religious lepers and are in great pain and misery”. Again the cardinal thought briefly. But again he could not cry.
The Chancellor stood up. He described the plight of the homosexual community in the kingdom who are also made to feel unwanted and who must cope with marginalisation from the church as well as with all the other difficulties of being “different”. “Many of them have been forced to emigrate Your Eminence and others have taken their own lives”. The cardinal dwelt on these people. But no tears would come.
The Vicar General approached and bowed low. “What Your Eminence of the hundreds of priests in your kingdom who find their celibacy vows unbearable, and as a result become involved in secret affairs with women and with men or who turn to alcohol or the abuse of power in order to cope. And what of all the deserted partners of priests and what of all the secret priest’s children”? The cardinal thought and thought. But still he could not weep.
There were many other attempts by the Auxiliary Bishops, the Monsignors, the Canons, the Vicars Forane, the Consultors, the Episcopal Vicars, the Judicial Vicars, the Pastors Emeritus, the Parish Priests, the Administrators, the curates, the Media Relations Officers, the Diocesan Archivists, the Diocesan Historians and the Religious Superiors to make the cardinal weep. But all to no avail. Even an attempt by the Canon Lawyers to inject artificial tears into the cardinal’s eyes came to nothing. There was despair throughout the whole kingdom. Everyone, except the cardinal, sat and wept until a river of tears flowed up the hill and in under the palace door.
And then something wonderful happened. A court messenger arrived with a copy of THE IRISH TIMES. Even though he regarded it as a Protestant type of newspaper the cardinal browsed through its pages. His eminent eyes fell upon a column by a certain Nuala O’Faolain. The heading was “No Excuse For Church In Scandal Of Priest Child Abuse”.
There the cardinal read of how he had failed to act after the came to know of clerical child abuse. His Eminence read on with ever opening eyes and saw himself being accused of doing little to stop offending priests apart from moving them from parish to parish where they abused again. He felt a lump in his throat as he saw himself being accused of being more interested in covering up for the Church than in the welfare and protection of little innocent children. And his whole body visibly shook as he read Ms. O Faolain suggest that the Catholic Church in Ireland might not always be of God and that some senior clerics in it might be the present day Pharisees!
The cardinal felt a huge surge of anger and resentment. His lavender coloured lips trembled. Great beads of sweat appeared on his clerical collar. His breathing became laboured. He put is snow white head into his marble hands and as the court looked on am amazing scene unfolded. The courtiers saw huge, translucent tears stream out through the cardinal’s white fingers and fall upon the highly polished marble floor. His Eminence wept for hours and hours. At last he could cry.
Ms. O’Faolain’s name was immediately inserted into the Solemn Liturgy Of Personae Non Grata
Cardinal Dry Eyes changed his name by a no-deed poll to Cardinal Crocodile. The kingdom returned to “normal” and they all lived happily ever after.