My wife and I were watching the Pope Benedict XVI on CNN last night. He was once again apologizing to the victims of sexual abuse by American priests -- this has become a theme for him during his first official visit to the United States. My wife couldn't help but take a mild shot at me, given that I am Catholic, albeit a somewhat lapse one. How could I associate with an institution that had been an active party in covering up these crimes for decades and has, until the Pope's very public confession, been reluctant to confess to it's many sins. Given that this pattern has been repeated in other countries, including here in Canada.
But even though I don't regularly attend church I still find that Catholicism remains very much a part of what defines me as a person. And so I find that I can't rebuke and dissociate myself even with the crimes and some of the values, such as its anti-gay stance (more than a bit ironic given the many gays who have been a part of the church over the decades).
In light of this it's frustrating to see Barack Obama to be attacked for his choice of church or his association with Bill Ayers, a member of the radical Weather Underground almost 40 years ago but now a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. If I decided to run for office would I have to end my association with the Catholic church because of the many horrible things it has done over the centuries? Or research everyone who has connected to me no matter how remotely or insignificantly? If it is then Senators Clinton and McCain will likely have to hire an army of investigators to dig up any and all of those they have associated with. I suppose Clinton could start with the two members of the Weather Underground her husband pardoned.
Stephen Colbert hit the right tone when he managed to link Obama with Hitler (through Ted Kennedy, the Catholic church and Pope Benedict, who was a member of the Hitler Youth).