Friday, March 12, 2010

Does It Annoy You...

That with the most recent slew of revelations about the sexual abuse of minors by priests, the Catholic commentators have started closing ranks around the Pope and bishops, making them out to be the victims, "of the media," allegedly?

"Trying to undermine their moral authority"?!? They've already lost it!!


Even if not personally involved directly, politicians wouldn't survive being associated with something like this. And yet there is going to be no major shake-up of who is in power.

It's all about defending the institution and doing PR damage control and making this all out to be some vast left-wing conspiracy. There is little authentic concern for the victims. It's enough to make you sick. Forget "annoy"...I'm enraged.

On the plus side, though, I think a lot of people are getting fed-up finally too...and something is going to give, sooner than we might think. There would just have to be an effective catalyst, something to get the ball rolling on a larger movement for substantive systematic reform.

I never thought I'd find myself citing Voltaire, but I think in the face of such entrenched denial, abuse, and foul corruption our rallying cry must indeed be "écrasez l'infâme!"

12 comments:

Tony said...

What is it exactly you want to happen then? The Church hierarchy can't just step down and be like "Yo, this stinks. Sorry. We're all resigning. Let all the Richard McBriens please take out place."

What do you expect? The Church hierarchy NOT to save face, when some measure of face is worth saving?

A Sinner said...

They could arrange for orthodox, traditional-minded outsiders (ie, not socialized into that institutional culture) to take their place, and then, yes, resign.

Of course, that isn't going to happen. But it would be the honorable thing to do. Ambrose was drafted into the episcopacy while still a catechumen after all.

sortacatholic said...

Pope Benedict will not resign. He may be disgraced in the media eye, but he will reign til the end. He has already been devalued by the media for previous decisions, so it's safe to say that many already have a negative appraisal of the Pontiff. That won't change.

Should certain prelates of the German, Irish, and Dutch hierarchies resign? Those directly responsible for sheltering offenders should step down immediately. Why the Vatican hasn't forced them out is beyond comprehension. The seconds are ticking away, and the Pope does nothing. Every passing second demonstrates to others that the papacy isn't serious about reform. The crises of Ireland and the Continent are akin to stroke and heart attack. Every second counts when saving the life of the hierarchy.

The Moderate Jacobite said...

In some cases they are victims, in some cases they are perpetrators and we need to be careful to distinguish the two.

The media are (at least here in England) rabidly anti-Catholic for the most part, and so will stretch any point to slur any and all parts of the hierarchy...regardless of their culpability. In particular they direct their attacks on the Holy Father, who has not been implicated in this particular scandal.

There are plenty who have lost more than their moral authority, and those who seek to defend them greatly diminish their own - but just as one bad Priest should not tar the whole of the sacerdotium, so one bad Bishop should not tar the whole of the hierarchy.

A Sinner said...

I'm sorry, but you really can't "stretch" child abuse and cover-up of the same to be any worse than it already is. It's the worst already. They don't need to trump it up...it's already as bad as it gets.

And when something like that happens in any other organization, usually all the administration ends up taking the fall, whether they were technically personally involved or merely had some knowledge; look at Nixon!

That this won't happen in the Catholic Church (and I'm pretty sure you're right, it won't) shows, in a certain sense, the extent of their delusion.

As for the media being "anti-Catholic"...I think all these charges you hear of "anti-Catholicism" from the Catholic-Identity-Politics crowd are ridiculous. They're not anti-Catholic, they just have an opposing ideology! And are trying to have it succeed while trying to have our efforts fail.

But calling them "anti-Catholic" is like calling the Democrats "anti-Republican" or vice versa, it would be a ridiculous claim. Everyone uses spin and mudslinging in political efforts (including the church). But I guess a persecution-complex is just part of identity politics...

The media may have a political agenda against the Church, and therefore be trying to harm it politically. Doesn't make what they've discovered untrue.

And doesn't mean that the perceptions created BY the media in the minds of mainstream people won't force the Church to act due to the PR crisis.

At the very least, even if they think that they aren't personally guilty enough to require them to resign in shame...they should still do it, then, for the good of the Church, knowing that they will have lost all political support, good-will, and moral authority, rendering them lame ducks.

Those who tried to defend the institutional church on the grounds of petty distinctions will be left looking like collaborators more concerned with institutional preservationism than with the enormity of the evil and corruption that has occurred.

tony said...

"At the very least, even if they think that they aren't personally guilty enough to require them to resign in shame...they should still do it, then, for the good of the Church, knowing that they will have lost all political support, good-will, and moral authority, rendering them lame ducks."

This is a very logical, rational approach. It is, I would say, overly simplistic, and perhaps too defeatist. The Church isn't permeated with delusion (except for the notion that Vatican II was purely a gift from God...ha!) in this regard. While I don't think its a good thing for a complete change-up in the hierarchy, many bishops will be retiring in time, and many probably be forced to resign for the good of the Church AND her images (its never for the latter alone, that would be stupid).

What we need is a thoughtful solution that makes for a lack of the lame-duck syndrome, but at the same time helps the institution save some face. There are some really good men in the Vatican and abroad. We can't let them suffer...or let the faithful suffer because they're sent away because of a few nutjobs. Repentance might be in order if silence was kept where it should not have been.

A Sinner said...

"Really good men" is an interesting idea. Fortitude is a virtue too, remember, and however temperate or faithful some of these men might be, most strike me as cowards by the mere fact that they haven't, in fact, confronted the status quo, but instead have remained silent and kept their heads down.

It isn't causing them to suffer, it's asking them to step aside for the good of the Church. No one has any right to a position in the hiearchy, even if they aren't guilty.

Under Napoleon certain bishops, even who were good, were asked to step aside by the Pope so that they could start with a clean slate untainted by the craziness of the previous decade.

Now, as I've said, I do not think there will be a total overhaul. But if the institutional Church is going to survive this with any credibility, some heads will have to roll. People will have to see real systematic reforms beyond VIRTUS training and policy statements.

The Pope will have to do something monumental to overcome this, not just vague apologetic words and new procedural policies.

He is going to need to remove many bishops or/and have the "re-examination" of mandatory celibacy that even a few Cardinals have called for now. In a way that isn't mere show with a pre-decided conclusion.

If people don't see structural reform, they simply won't live it down.

Even if you believe that there is absolutely no connection between the authoritarian clerical culture of mandatory celibacy and the covering up of child abuse and the institutional rank-closing and defensiveness seen afterward...the fact is, other people DO see the connection, and it is all perceptions that are in play here.

The media is extremely powerful. If they say something like, "There is huge pressure for the Pope to loosen mandatory celibacy"...then there IS huge pressure by the very fact that the media has said it. It will galvanize the liberals, embolden the lukewarm Catholics, and hopefully the Renegade Trads...all while the neocons and regular trads get more and more defensive and backed into a corner on the issue.

We'll see how the media plays their cards, but I hope it is in a way that encourages drastic reform.

Anonymous said...

"That this won't happen in the Catholic Church (and I'm pretty sure you're right, it won't) shows, in a certain sense, the extent of their delusion."

Though probably unintentional, this comment kind of says it all with this blog.

Sex abuse, clerical "old boy" cover up, celibacy, major structural "reform"...please don't go the way of Gerald Naus.

Pater, O.S.B. said...

Your note about the French bishops under the concordat with Napoleon was just the example I was thinking of.

lestre said...

"Those directly responsible for sheltering offenders should step down immediately. Why the Vatican hasn't forced them out is beyond comprehension. The seconds are ticking away, and the Pope does nothing. Every passing second demonstrates to others that the papacy isn't serious about reform."

Truly.

The sad case of Bernard Law exemplifies this truth for the whole world to see. A man who most probably ought to be in a cold monastery somewhere doing penance in ashes and sackcloth is meanwhile sipping wine in the rectory of St. Mary Major. If Law's situation isn't sufficient to convince Catholics of the Church's institutional corruption, then one wonders what ever will. The unbiased observer is able to see all of this plainly, and no amount of PR will be enough.

Combine the institutional decadence with doctrinal confusion emanating from a Council, a series of popes, and most of the hierarchy, and it starts to look an awful lot like a man-made religion. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain ... "

A Sinner said...

Indeed, lestre. It is so digusting. There are many ways to be corrupt. A lack of papal orgies and family nepotism and embezzlement of funds...doesn't mean that THIS type of corruption isn't just as bad as the Renaissance, in fact I think it is all the worse for its subtlety and the way good lay Catholics won't call them out on it.

sortacatholic said...

Spot on lestre. I remember the day when Bernie Law said his first Mass on the high altar of St. Mary Major. I wanted to punch the TV screen out of frustration. (not literally -- it was a picture tube ;-)

Johann Tetzel may not be peddling his indulgences outside of Wittenberg Cathedral. However, the perfect storm of raging and/or abused laity, corrupt hierarchy, and a (seemingly indifferent) pope is utterly reminiscent of the early days of the German Reformation. This might sound absurd or even heretical on my behalf. Hear me out. Unlike Pope Leo X, who gave a belated crap about the revolutions in northern Germany, Pope Benedict does care right now but is caught in this storm as well. Pope Benedict can't and shouldn't make snap decisions to placate the laity or lower clergy. He also shouldn't sacrifice bishops who aren't corrupt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, he risks repeating the error of Leo X. Leo merely issued bulls from afar while Saxony seethed and convulsed. Pope Benedict must get hands-on involved in this if he wants to salvage the reputation of the hierarchy and even the papacy.

Yesterday was "Rejoice, O Jerusalem!" I thought it would have been better to sing: "For there our captors required of us songs [...] "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!" How shall we sing the LORD's song in a foreign land?" (Ps 134:3 - 4 RSV) We Catholics now wander through an exile. Perhaps it will end with a council (my hope). Perhaps nothing will be done and the Church will further rot. I hope that Rome learns from past mistakes and acts with tact and speed.