The author of a children's book advocating race separation has revealed a letter from the Vatican which seems to signal Pope Francis' approval.
Dirk Waldmark showed the letter, signed on behalf of the Pope by a high-ranking official in the Secretariat of State, Peter B. Wells, to reporters on Monday. Waldmark has been embroiled in controversy since the Mayor of Philadelphia banned his children's book, "Birds of a Feather," from public libraries in his city in June.
The letter says, in part:
His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values.Waldmark had sent to Pope Francis copies of a number of his children's books, seven or eight of which deal explicitly with race. They included, "Uncle Adolph," a sympathetic portrait of Hitler through the eyes of his niece; "Ride Forrest, Ride," which tells the story of former Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest's founding of the Ku Klux Klan; and "Birds of a Feather."
In "Birds of a Feather," a cardinal named "Little Red" has encounters with families of robins, bluebirds, and other birds, including black birds. The theme of the book is that just as birds of the same type mate and raise young, so people should marry members of their same race.
Waldmark's letter to Pope Francis asked the "whole hierarchy of the Church" to get behind his books.
Waldmark found an unlikely ally in the American Civil Liberties Union, which objected to "censorship or banning on the basis of content, no matter how distasteful we may find it." However, the controversy escalated when First Lady Michelle Obama called the book "racist and horrible."
The Vatican Press Office was quick to issue a terse statement in response to Waldmark's revelation. "In no way does the letter from the Secretariat of State mean to endorse behaviour and teachings not in line with the Gospel." It also said the letter from the Secretariat in Pope Francis' name was supposed to be private.
The above, of course, slightly changes the facts of Egg-gate to make a point. Dirk Waldmark is fictional, his books (thankfully) are not in print, and the Vatican never commented on that matter. The Bear cast the issue in terms of race, rather than homosexuality, to provide the sense of a supernatural perspective to those who might lack one, and to demonstrate what a fiasco the scandal really is.
In the scale of worldly norms, racism is considered far worse an offense than homosexuality, which is tolerated if not actually celebrated.
In the Bear's little tale, would people shrug off a letter in the Pope's name sent by his Secretariat of State blandly encouraging an author of racist books? Would the response by the Vatican Press Office be considered sufficient? (If you really want to blow your mind, set this in Pope Benedict's reign!)
Of course not. Pope Francis himself would have to gather reporters, lecture everyone on the evils of racism, utterly disavow any knowledge of the deed, and remove Peter Wells from his position.
The reason people are accepting the official narrative in Egg-gate is not because it is compelling, but because even if the Pope told Wells to send the letter it's no big deal. It would not be a violation of the secular norms and priorities we associate with this papacy.
The Bear sees Egg-gate in the shocking light that most people would see his fictional "Bird-gate." What the Vatican did is unthinkable, the response of its Press Office is insulting, and the silence of the Pope is disappointing, but, sadly, not surprising.
The Bear will entertain no criticism that he is somehow equating one thing to another. He's not. He is simply translating the scandal into terms understandable by most people.