The Ten Weeks, 20 December, Arguing With the Bishop

Without Carla, the des Cieux had to take up the slack of supplementing what the hospital could do for her. Pierre brought in a small shortwave radio and they were able to listen to broadcasts from back home, dispensing with the non-functional television. The family took times about going home to rest, to get more things for a stronger and more demanding Madeleine, and to attend Mass at the Cathedral. Pierre went to the 1100 Mass, and wasn’t in a very pious mood as he greeted his bishop, Anthony Santini, as he was leaving.
Santini looked like more like a Cardinal than the bishop of a very small diocese whose presence was illegal in most of the Island. In his early fifties, with his wire-rimmed glasses perched on his large nose, Santini had only been bishop for a year and a half. Like most Catholic Bishops of Verecunda the past forty years, Santini had been elevated with Lucian Gerland’s blessing, as if the man had la regale that had slipped out of the hands of the crowned heads of Europe. But Santini also prided himself in his good relationship with the current government, a useful if short-sighted expedient in Allan Kendall’s Verecunda.
“I understand from Raymond that your daughter is doing better,” Santini proclaimed to Pierre.
“If Father Moore had made more than one fleeting visit, you would know this for yourself,” Pierre replied sourly.
“You make many demands on mother church you should not,” Santini scolded back. “The Secretary of State—excuse me, the Foreign Minister—just revoked the visas of my two Irish priests. I am short handed.”
“So why don’t you send at least one of them to Collina and bring Father Becker over?”
“Vatican II notwithstanding, it is not the role of the laity to dictate assignment of priests. Besides, I may have to send Avalon back to his native land if he keeps kicking against the goads on the subject of abortion and the many other things he does to antagonise the government.”
“I regret to inform you that we have had better ecclesiastical representation from Madeleine’s Baptist friends than from ‘mother church,’” Pierre retorted.
“Your Baptist friends are in more serious trouble than we are,” Santini came back. “Sects such as they are at the top of the government’s list of bad elements, as they should be, ecumenical considerations notwithstanding.”
“And whom do you think they will visit when they are finished with them?” Pierre asked.
“You are very impertinent, my son,” Santini replied irritatedly. “The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. Good day,” and with that he turned and walked away. But he did actually visit Madeleine early that evening.

Leave a Reply