First-term governor Eliot Spitzer sold New Yorkers on the idea that he was going to bring ethics back to the state. Yesterday he stood in front of a group of reporters earnestly apologizing for his recent behavior, saying he "acted in a way that violates my obligaions to my family and violates my or any sense of right or wrong."
Why the apology? He got caught.
A ring of high-end prositution was busted by the feds last week (wow, I never thought I'd write that..."busted by the feds") and guess who was a client? Mr. Clean.
I'm not shocked, not at all. I'm sad. A photo of Spitzer and his wife was in the paper this morning, and I can't forget Mrs. Spitzer's face. She is standing next to him, her arms behind her back, looking totally exposed. Her face is drawn; she looks exhausted. She's wearing pearls and a lovely pale blue jacket. Her hair is perfect. Her eyes are focused on some spot in the distance, perhaps remembering a time when she was untouched by the watchful eye of the media, a time when she trusted her husband. Seeing her made me want to cry.
There were no compelling photos, but in the newspaper article in a neighboring column, the latest dirt on Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was left for all to track through. Kwame's been in it deep lately, since text messages surfaced linking him and his top aide in a romance. Today's article said that the Mayor's wife was witnessd clobbering an exotic dancer at a wild party at the Mayor's mansion some time ago. That dancer was found dead in April of 2003.
We all know that "character doesn't matter", right? We all know that prostition (especially the "high-end" kind, where the girls make lots of cash and live glamorous lives) is a personal choice, and that open marriages demonstrate modernity, and that our sexualtiy is a private matter that doesn't affect anyone but us, thank you.
Everyone agrees that the Catholic Church is old-fashioned and blind when it comes to the way things are today. How dare they tell us what to do? How idiotic. They should just stay out of our bedrooms, right? Our sins can't possibly affect others, particularly our sexual sins.
Sins. Yes, sins. I was pondering sins, those of the public officials I'd read about, those of people I love, and even my own, when I came across one more article this morning. Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary in Rome, was asked by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano what, in his opinion, are the "new sins."
"If yesterday sin had a rather individualistic dimension," he replied, "today it has a weight, a resonance, that's especially social, rather than individual."
Our sins affect the world in ways we can't begin to imagine. Like pebbles in a pond, they send out ripples that change things, damage them, take the whole world one step farther from Eden.
Next week is Holy Week, an especially good time to think about sin. Their "weight"? Their "resonance"? Just look at the cross. Just look what sin has done.