Summary: As Silas carries him to a hospital, the wounded Bishop Aringarosa remembers the meeting at Castel Gandolfo five months earlier that set his current chain of events in motion. At that meeting, he was informed that the Vatican would be severing its ties to Opus Dei, revoking its status as a preferred papal prelature. When the Teacher contacted Aringarosa, offering a way to save Opus Dei, Aringarosa agreed to serve him. Arriving at St. Mary’s Hospital, Silas vows to seek revenge on the Teacher. Aringarosa instead counsels Silas to pray and practice forgiveness, “God’s greatest gift.”
Analysis: This chapter ast reveals the way in which Teabing, posing as “the Teacher”—“a title,” we are told, “common in the prelature” (p. 449); but also ironically appropriate, since Teabing spends much of the novel teaching Sophie (and readers) Grail lore—was able to gain such influence over Aringarosa. Teabing had learned that Opus Dei’s privileged status with the Vatican was to be revoked, and he used Aringarosa’s fear over this loss of power in order to gain his service. This chapter also presents the Church in a much more favorable light than much of the novel. The Pope of The Da Vinci Code, recall, is a force for progressive ecclesiastical change; his reasons for wanting to abolish the Vatican’s special relationship with Opus Dei include objections to its medieval practices of corporeal mortification, its attitudes toward women, and its vast wealth. One of the cardinals who met with Aringarosa sums up the decision: “Third-century laws… cannot be applied to the modern followers of Christ. The rules are not workable in today’s society” (p. 448). Given how much of the novel has portrayed the Church, these words emerge as a remarkably enlightened statement, consistent with the attitudes toward change and truth espoused by such characters as Langdon and Sophie. Aringarosa, however, is tied to an idealized vision of the past when he complains about the “rigors of faith” having fallen away (p. 448). That inflexibility, coupled with his desire for personal status and power, all cloaked in the respectful veneer of service to God, has brought about his downfall. The chapter concludes with Aringarosa fully realizing the depths to which he has fallen, and showing apparently true humility as he advises Silas to seek and to practice forgiveness.