it was generally jammed with tourists,nand I was happy to return to Bad Ausseenand its admirable old hotel, the ErzherzognJohann; Gault/Millaut has done Austrianbut to date Michelin has not. Whennit does, the Erzherzog should wear a lotnof red and many stars.nAs should the Salzkammergut. GrilssnGott!nGeoffrey Wagner is an emeritus professornof English of the City University ofnNew York.nLetter From thenVaticannby Thomas MolnarnThe Forum and the FaithnWhen in Rome, one should first try tonsee it as a city like any other. Easier writtennthan done when one’s hotel is justnbehind the Pantheon and in its wallsnthere are plaques eommemorating thatnGeneral San Martin, Bolivar’s fellow liberator,nlived there, and that Stendhalnworked on his Memoires in one of thenrooms. Rome’s greatness is that it isnnever oppressive, that it always appearsnas the mother of beauty and time.nComing in at late afternoon from ancongress on biogenetics held in Frascati,nwe have dinner in the Campo di Fiorinwhere Giordano Bruno was burned atnthe stake in 1600. One of the surroundingnpalaces appropriately housed the Inquisition.nThe debris of the day’s marketnhave not been cleared away yet; wenlearn there is a garbage strike. Thenprices are atrociously high.nWhiling away until my secondncongress, I call the Vatican the next day,nalthough according to news from homena letter had come canceling my expectednaudience with Cardinal Ratzinger, whonwould be at Lourdes. But when innRome, don’t take “no” (or “yes”) forngranted, so I call again. I learn that thenCardinal will not go to Lourdes but willngive lectures in Germany. “Call backnagain, we shall see,” say his extremelynhelpful secretaries, a lady and a youngnpriest.nSo it happened last summer that on anmorning of furnace-like heat, I was sippingncoffee facing the massive buildingnwhere Cardinal Ratzinger’s offices arenlocated, the Sacred Congregation ofnFaith and Doctrine. Coffee at one dollarnis the drinkable beverage reasonablynpriced; I have two cups. The Cardinal,nhis trip having now been canceled,nwould receive me at 10:30. So here Insit, listening to all the languages of thenworld passing by. Around the Vatican, innfact in Rome itself, one always feels thatnsomething important will happen. I enternthe building ten minutes before mynappointment. It is in rather bad repair,nbut the elevator works.nOne after the other, the gentle secretariesnappear. We chat for a moment innGerman but agree that the Cardinal andnI will speak French. In a few more minutes,nhe appears and ushers me into anothernroom. I reveal no secret when Insay that for the next forty minutes CardinalnRatzinger was at his best Vaticandiplomaticnbehavior. He knew that I wasnno newcomer to the Church’s troublednera, that I was no leftist Utopian (we hadnmet fifteen years ago at a Salzburg conference,non the topic of utopianism) butna not-too-happy critic of Vatican II.nThere on the table was my latest book.nThe Church, Pilgrim of Centuries.nWhat can the second man after thenPope say on a bright Roman morning tona keenly attentive but critical visitor?nFirst, that John Paul II was studyingnMagyar in preparation of his August vis­nLIBERAL ARTSnAND THE HOMEWORK?nit to Hungary, and that he finds the languagenenormously difficult! Then thenCardinal wishes me well on my appointmentnto the University of Budapestnas a professor of the philosophy of religion.nWe both know Eastern Europe,nthe new site of the Church there, andnthe task of teachers of postcommunistngenerations. The Cardinal stresses, innthese hard times, the necessity of fullnobedience to the bishops, and returnsnseveral times to this theme, as expected.nI interject: but take bishops like thenFrench Gaillot (raised fist at communistnmeetings), the Brazilian Arns (praise ofnCastro), the America Hunthausen andnWeakland. Obedience, of course; yetnwhat about the masses of Catholics—nconfused, humiliated, reduced to pariahs—spirituallynroughened?nThe Cardinal knows it well; he isnaware that I was there in New York whennhe was heckled by homosexuals throughoutnhis lecture and three dozen policemenndid nothing to stop them. Howncan he answer my question? He speaksninstead of arrogant priests following theirnown path, of sectarianism, of FathernBulanyi in Hungary and his base communities,nof the Church’s losses innSouth America, the absurd super-mundanitiesnof the American Church. I trynto link all these phenomena of desertionnfrom orthodoxy with Rome’s relaxed notionnof authority, while I think of thenScientist Simon LeVay, noted for his contention that homosexuality results fromnanatomical differences in the brain, announced last February that he would leaventhe Salk Institute to establish a school for homosexuals. The Los Angeles Timesnquoted Robert Bray, spokesman for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, asnsaying the proposed West Hollywood Institute for Gay and Lesbian Education “willncreate an unbiased, non-heterosexist environment for students to learn about themselvesnas well as science andacademic issues affecting them.” The institute will benknown as WHIGLE.nnnJULY 1992/45n