Friday, April 9, 2010

Do They Not Realize How Serious This Is?

People are now calling for the Pope to be arrested and charged with crimes against humanity. The most likely (and it is very unlikely) venue would be Britain when the Pope visits.

Obviously, this is way over the top. The Pope should take responsibility for what his organization does, and he personally may have been culpably negligent or at least way too weak or indecisive in his response many times, but there was of course no systematic program of child abuse (whether there was of covering it a more open question).

And yet this is a degree of rhetoric I've never seen before, from quite mainstream sources. Arrest the Pope and try him in an international court?! Exaggerated to the extreme, obviously, and yet...the Vatican thinks the proper response is to just do nothing and dismiss it all as petty gossip?! Didn't they learn anything from the controversy over Pius XII "not doing enough"? Even if he has done some things to help, people expect decisive and dramatic action from a leader the stature of the Pope, his actions must be proportionate to the scope and power of his office, which is immense! And yet they think that publishing some old guidelines on its website and maybe making some apologies is going to cut it?

Not by a long shot. Because people aren't just mad ab0ut the child abuse or the cover-up anymore even; that has emboldened us, to be sure, and given leverage, but it is time for massive reform of all the various problems plaguing the Church (whatever people think those may be). It's time for the crisis of leadership in the hierarchy to be addressed, to use the massive institutional potential and already-in-place infrastructure to implement a program that does more than try to rock the boat as little as possible (as has been the modus operandi since at least the end of the Council, and frankly much longer than that). The Church is hemorrhaging and they think they can solve it all by putting some band-aids on it!!

There may be no real threat of the Pope being arrested, but don't they understand the outrage it represents? It isn't just because of the Vatican's position on abortion and gay marriage. As long as they think that any and all critique of the institutional structures is really just some proxy for doctrinal dissent...they're not going to get it. Plenty of good faithful Catholics are mad as hell too, and want to see systematic structural reform of the clergy. Too-little-too-late gestures are not going to cut it. I have to agree with these sentiments:
"Any meeting the pope may have with victims helps him look good while doing nothing noteworthy," said Barbara Dorris, the outreach director of U.S.-based victim lobby SNAP. "Kids need and deserve immediate protection and dramatic reform, not public relations ploys and photo ops. They need substance, not symbols," she said.
There is this byzantine bureaucracy that has some claim over 1/6th of the world's population and yet refuses to let go of its feudal structures and arrogant, out-of-touch culture of clericalism that has caused major systematic corruption all the while providing a "product" (in the form of liturgy and pastoral care) that has for some time now been mediocre at best. It's getting harder and harder to justify why anyone should believe them, let alone dedicate money, time, energy (or even their whole life) to this institution whose wimpy leaders are too afraid to even excommunicate pro-abortion politicians!

This is getting crazy, and the silence or underwhelming response is just fanning the flames. They need to make some changes now or they will risk getting the State involved in some way. Because, have no doubt, States are powerful enough to do that, and would do so if the public outrage was high enough to support that. And the public outrage isn't going away, it's getting higher and higher as the hierarchy simply hunkers down and tries to defend the status quo.

Maybe it's time for that coup.

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