Christopher Columbus is outed as an advocate and practitioner of sex slavery. This is not really news. Lots of loyal Americans looked on 1992 as an awkward moment, and others no less loyal lamented the beginning of a genocide against natives of our western continents. What on earth to do with this? Am I obligated to renounce my membership in the Knights of Columbus? Or just decline to use the man’s name or even the usual acronym, “KC” or “KofC”?
I was thinking about a city in which I once served. The local Catholic High School is named for “Columbus.” (Why not a saint? Don’t ask me.) Suppose some students, faculty, parents, or other Catholics began a campaign to change the name. Would I be obliged to support it? Would opposition be dismayed from a sense of passing a positive judgment on a person who fell far short of a Gospel ideal as viewed through a modern lens? Would the lack of support from Catholics possibly cede the moral high ground to secular feminists or others supporting or conducting such a campaign?
How much scrutiny should the Church apply to its saints? Does declared sainthood mean or even imply that criticism of the person is out of bounds? What about honest research? Does avoidance of history serve the truth? And which is more damaging to the faith: that heroes are revealed as sinners, or that we hide the “scandalous” news from others?
Looks like a dozen questions, give or take. I have a lot of questions today, and very few answers. Comments are welcome if you have either or both.