Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 34 Comments
I think you can make a solid case that the Roman Catholic Church’s sex scandals are the greatest tragedy ever to afflict that church. But Chris! What about that Reformation thing that was in all the pamphlets back in the day?!
What about it? I’d call that one more a missed opportunity than a tragedy. Had Rome taken Luther seriously and seriously debated him instead of just peremptorily ordering him to stand down, the whole Reformation might never have happened.
This one’s different. There are no dissident German monks nailing up theses this time; this wound was entirely self-inflicted. From what I understand, the Catholic Church in Ireland has done to itself what generations of English Protestants never could.
It’s been the same in other traditionally-Catholic parts of Europe where large numbers of people have left the Church. I guess every Roman Catholic who loves the Church has to regard news of this person leaving Roman Catholicism, that person leaving the Christian faith entirely or that other victim of some predator priest blowing his brains out as yet another dagger to the heart.
A dagger stuck there by a Catholic bishop.
There have been, of course, no shortage of suggestions as to What Rome Ought To Do About It. The secular ones don’t interest me. The world hates the Christian church, whatever its manifestations, and always will. The religious suggestions do, particularly those coming from liberal Catholics.
Because to be perfectly blunt about it, this scandal has been a Vague, Ambiguous Deity Concept-send for LibCats like Auxiliary Bishop Pat Power of the Diocese of Canberra-Goulburn in Australia:
The current crisis facing the Catholic Church arising out of sexual abuse is arguably the most serious challenge the Church has faced since the Reformation in the 16th century.
Agreed. How should the Catholic Church respond? Easy. By becoming Episcopalian.
In 1996, I gave a talk in which I expressed my hopes for the Catholic Church. They were that it would be:
- a more human Church
- a humbler Church
- a less clerical Church
- a more inclusive Church (and therefore more truly catholic)
- a more open Church
- a Church which finds unity in diversity
- a Church which discovers its whole tradition
- a Church which truly reflects the person and values of Jesus.
After all, the Last Truly Great Pope would have wanted it that way.
The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) called by Pope John XXIII provided so many opportunities for reform by empowering the laity as part of the People of God, engaging with the modern world, other Churches and non-Christian religions, promoting religious freedom, encouraging greater participation in the liturgy, enabling all to have a deeper relationship with God. Unfortunately, these days we are more likely to be warned of the “excesses following Vatican II” or told of the need for “reform of the reform” in regard to the liturgy or the “re-interpretation of Vatican II”.
And as everyone knows, none of these atrocities happened during that all-too-brief golden age when nary a Latin word was to be heard in the Catholic liturgy and Gregorian chant had been thrown on the ash heap of Church history in favor of the works of Häagen-Dazs or whatever that guy’s name is.
The reform needed by the Church today will involve much more than just “tinkering around the edges”. Issues such as the authoritarian nature of the Church, compulsory celibacy for the clergy, the participation of women in the Church, the teaching on sexuality in all aspects cannot be brushed aside. Listening must be a key component of reform and at times that will involve listening to unpalatable truths. It needs to be recognised that all wisdom does not reside exclusively in the present all-male leadership of the Church and that the voices of the faithful must be heard.
Leaving aside questions of theology, patristics and history, two questions jump out at this non-Catholic. The first is this: exactly how would reassessment, presumably in a much less stringent direction, of “compulsory celibacy” as well as “the teaching of sexuality in all aspects” reduce the number of priests who sexually molest children?
Seems to me that going Episcopal Organization confirmation class on the whole sex question is exactly the wrong message to send. An indifferently permissive sexual ethic is not conducive to communicating that some sex acts not only should not be engaged in, they should not even be considered.
After all, eliminating ID checks for $2.50-a-bottle Jack Daniels doesn’t seem like a good way to attack the problem of underage drinking.
But here’s the kicker: Power’s ideal Catholic Church(“less clerical…more inclusive…unity in diversity,” a church with a non-existent sexual ethic, a church in which women are fully represented at all levels and a church which the laity help run) already exists.
It’s called the Episcopal Organization or the Anglican Organization of Canada, depending on where you live.
Is Power suggesting that the Roman Catholic Church needs to emulate western Anglicanism, a pseudo-Christian sect that has been dying for the last 30 years? If he is, that’s fine. There’s just one problem.
Australian ones too, for that matter.
Yeah, well, the Anglicans have handled it better!! Probably. But if you listen to the liberal utopians, the problem wouldn’t happen at all if everybody would only emulate the Episcopalians. So does Pat Power honestly care about this problem? Or is he simply using it to advance his own agenda?