Monday, April 5, 2010

How is the Church Screwing Up Today (Now with Antisemitism!)

Apparently, "certain Catholic circles" -- whatever that means -- who are slamming the New York Times in public over their reporting of the Church abuse scandal are also blaming the "New York Jewish Lobby" in private [via T].

Plus, the priest who broke protocol to lavish praise on the Pope during the Easter service, has been called "the great defender" of one the the most shameful examples of abusive priests.

Even the church's most adamant defenders among the laity don't seem to truly grasp the scope of the scandal:
There are two parts to the scandal that has obsessed Europe in recent weeks. The first part — the most evil, disgusting part — is over. Every group has a small percentage of members with sick sexual desires. By their very calling, Christian ministers ought to have a lower percentage. For a variety of reasons, however, the Catholic Church suffered through an astonishingly corrupt generation of priests, centered around 1975, with a percentage of sexual predators at least equal to the general population's.
To blame the abuse on "an astonishingly corrupt generation of priests" seems to suggest that the abuse wasn't a problem before, say, 1940 when there's a potential that this has been going on for ages. In fact, the way in which the church almost uniformly treated abusive priests across differing cultures and legal systems suggests that there was an institutional procedure for dealing with such issues. Those don't develop over night, especially in an institution like the Catholic church.

Fortunately, there a some members of the church who understand the stakes and understand the recovery will require a vast outreach effort:
I fault the media for failing to recognize the extraordinary beauty of the Pope’s homilies this week, concentrating only on the line, or lack of a line, about the sex abuse crisis, as if the salvation of humanity by the death and resurrection of Christ was unimportant compared with the fact that then-Cardinal Ratzinger was cc’d on a memo. But, now it is time to fault the Vatican for failing to understand a basic fact of modern life: Until they confront the crisis and respond directly to the criticisms raised, they will not be heard. They cannot effectively preach the Good News until they deal with the news cycle. I wish it were different, but then again, I am sure Paul wished his reception had been different at the Areopagus. It is time to call in the cavalry if the Church is to have its preachings about Calvary heard.

In this case, the cavalry is Cardinal Sean O’Malley. In 1992, the Porter case in Fall River was one of the first intimations of how grotesque the sexual abuse of minors by clergy could be, and how devastating to the life of the local church. Bishop O’Malley was sent to Fall River to get to the bottom of the case and to restore the faith of his flock. It seemed only natural, therefore, that when the Bishop of Palm Beach, Florida resigned after it was credibly charged that he had abused children, not just covered up the abuse, O’Malley was sent to rekindle the faith of the people there. The next year, after the first-ever forced resignation by an American cardinal, with the church in Boston literally coming apart at the seams, the Vatican again turned to O’Malley to turn things around.
Outreach alone, however, won't atone for past. The Church could have an army of O'Malleys and it would still be missing the act of contrition that has to come from the Pope himself:
Some are now calling for Benedict’s resignation. That seems very unlikely. But an act of penitence on the part of the pope and the world’s bishops, one that goes well beyond pro forma apologies to victims, is desperately needed. Benedict is a deeply prayerful man whose fervent faith infuses his every act, utterance, and hope. For more than half a century he has urged the church toward ressourcement, toward the recovery of what is best in the neglected spiritual practices of the past. Now it is time for him to show how traditional Christian repentance and self-abnegation can perform miracles, for nothing less than a miracle is needed.

1 comment:

anti-Vatican Stewie said...

The Pope is gross.