• Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 294 other followers

  • Blog Stats

    • 328,945 hits

The Bishop Has an Entourage. What’s Wrong with This Picture?

John Paul II and Roger Vangheluwe.

A bishop in Belgium has resigned after admitting he had sex with a young man in his entourage.

The New York Times reports:

Published: April 23, 2010

ROME — The longest-serving bishop in Belgium resigned Friday after admitting to sexually abusing “a young man in my close entourage” many years ago, becoming the latest cleric to quit in a spreading abuse scandal.

Does it not occur to these bishops that part of the problem is having an entourage?

Who do they think they are, NBA stars? Rappers? Pimps?

What sort of person allows himself to be surrounded by an entourage?

“Oh, we are going on tour. Summon the entourage.”


Think about it. Professional athletes have an entourage; they’re rich, people think they’re important, so all these hustlers and hangers-on spring out of the woodwork, wanting a piece of the action.

Kirstie Allie has an entourage; she used to be a famous actress on a sitcom. Now she’s reduced to doing a reality show about her struggle to lose weight. She has 18 or 20 employees in her entourage; her personal assistant has an assistant, but please don’t confuse that guy with her monkey handler, or ask the maid’s maid to get the clothes out of the dryer. Clothes-wrangling is someone else’s job. Kirstie can’t fit into those clothes anyway, they’re so last week.

Do the bishops of Jesus Christ not understand that there’s something profoundly wrong with how they’re living?

The minute you’ve got an entourage is the minute you’ve screwed it all up.

(I once saw Johnny Mathis on the subway in New York. We rode the Times Square Shuttle together. He wore formal clothes like he’d just come from a performance. He did not have an entourage; he was just Johnny, standing and gripping a pole like a normal person. I did not approach him, even though I love his music. I thought he deserved to be able to ride the shuttle without being accosted. Maybe I should have spoken to him, but I let him be. A man ought to be able to ride a train without people wanting a piece of him.)

Do you know what life is like for the Episcopal Bishop of Indianapolis? I can tell you. Her name is Cate. She’s a normal person, a friend of mine.

She wakes up in the morning; she says the Daily Office while her husband is snoring away. She checks her e-mail; nothing big. She takes a shower; she makes some tea. Her husband wakes up and kisses her, then lumbers off.

She has a confirmation today in Lafayette or Crawfordsville or Beanblossom; wherever. The cities and towns blend into each other. She goes to MapQuest to remind herself where Beanblossom is.

She gets in the car and drives herself to Beanblossom. The priest comes out to greet her and carry her bag, which she appreciates. She meets some altar guild ladies and makes a joke with them. A few parishioners straggle in; not very many. She worries a little. But soon an organist starts playing, she lines up in the back of a tiny parade and they walk in. Not many people here, but the ones who’ve come are glad to see her. She smiles at parishioners she’s seen before.

Confirmation: she puts her hands on half a dozen people, some of them kids, some of them older folks battered or abandoned by their former church. Then it’s time for the sermon. She stands in the designated place and gives the same speech she’s said several dozen times, but she finds a way to make this version unique, slightly memorable, slightly personal, given only for them. Then mass goes on and she holds up her hands at the proper place.

Afterwards there’s a little reception for her because she’s a bishop. It’s the sort of occasion where the rector’s wife used to pour tea, but all that’s gone by the wayside, the rector’s a part-timer and retired, this is Beanblossom. It’s rather nice anyway, despite all that. Then she gets in her car, the rector carries her bag, and she drives herself home.

No entourage.

She gets home. The house is cold. Her husband informs her that the furnace is out and he’s called the furnace man. He watches ESPN. She makes another cup of tea.

The furnace man comes and tinkers for five minutes. He gets the heat back up. It costs her $90. He goes away.

She sits down with her husband; they watch a movie on HBO. Hubby gets up halfway through and tosses some JiffyPop in the microwave. She appreciates his little gesture. They eat popcorn and watch the last half of the movie. It isn’t that good, but it’s interesting.

When it’s over they go to bed. Tomorrow she has confirmation at St. Paul’s. Next week is all meetings.

She sleeps. No entourage.

She’s an Episcopal bishop. That and two dollars will get you a greeting from a Starbucks barrista. No one calls her “Right Reverend Ma’am.”

She doesn’t need them to. She’s an Episcopalian. If she wants to throw her weight around she can; but she doesn’t want to.

Meanwhile her entire ministry is undermined by pedophile priests in Belgium who diddle the choirboys but rise to bishop. And it’s not like nobody knew what was going on. They all knew; they just figured this is what happens when you’re rich and you’ve got an entourage.

It isn’t fair, but she’d rather not have an entourage. She’d rather be Cate. You may not think Beanblossom’s important, but she does. She remembers the look on that guy’s face when she put her hands on his head. That look was worth all the driving, all the meetings, all the BS she has to put up with from Rowan Williams and The Indianapolis Star. That look gave her life meaning; that look was worth the drive to Beanblossom or wherever it was.

She didn’t want an entourage; she wanted to be a free actor, a Cate, a faithful person. An entourage would have made her something she wasn’t. Without them she could be a free agent.

She didn’t envy the Roman bishops, she pitied them. Hangers-on and hustlers, she had no need of them. She got to do her job the way she was meant to, with all its little humiliations. Why did the furnace man cost $90? Why was supper just JiffyPop?

Her husband snored; but she smiled at him and went to sleep, one more night as the Bishop of Indianapolis.

Bishop Vangheluwe, the first Belgian bishop to step down since the abuse scandal began to erupt in recent months in several European countries, is not the first bishop to resign in the scandal. His resignation came just one day after church authorities in Germany said that Bishop Walter Mixa, one of the country’s most prominent and outspoken conservative clerics, had tendered his resignation after being accused of beating children decades ago.

Beating children; it somehow follows with having an entourage. Cate counted her blessings.++