Monday, May 17, 2010

Totally Insulated?

Is the Vatican so insulated from the opinions of ordinary Catholics that they just don't care? Sure, they can't sacrifice dogma or objective moral teachings (though they could take a much more pragmatic/realist pastoral approach on the subjective level), but surely that would force them to be all the more responsive when it comes to issues they can change, when it comes to the bones they can throw us. But apparently, their arrogance knows no bounds:

A majority of Italians believe priests should be allowed to marry and under half have confidence in Pope Benedict XVI, according to an opinion poll today.

The survey, carried out by the polling organisation Demos and published in La Repubblica, came as Catholic bishops in Austria called on the Vatican to open up the issue of priestly celibacy for discussion.


Asked if they favoured allowing priests to marry, only 22 per cent of those questioned said No. 42.5 per cent said they were “very much” in favour of abolishing the celibacy rule while 23.4 per cent said they were “fairly” in favour, a total of 65.9 per cent.

A total of 62 per cent said they believed the Church had sought either to minimise or to cover up clerical sex abuse scandals. Only 18 per cent said the attacks on the Church over sex abuse were “unjustified” and only 13 per cent said the Church had dealt with the problem “adequately”.

Ilvo Diamanti, an Italian sociologist, said the drop in support for the Church and the papacy partly stemmed from the Vatican’s slow, divided and confused response to the paedophile crisis at a time of fast moving global media. It was also linked to the decline of the priesthood in Italian society, with the Church increasingly seen as out of touch with modern social attitudes and mores.

The poll followed the conclusion at the weekend of a congress at Mariazell south of Vienna at which Austrian bishops called on the Vatican to discuss the issue of celibacy and whether to ordain married priests.

Bishop Alois Schwarz of the Carinthia diocese told the meeting: “We hear this question as bishops, and we are telling Rome that we have this problem.”

He said the role of women in the Church was also among the “many open topics which we need to discuss with sensitivity and from different viewpoints”. The bishops ended their meeting with a call for “broad reforms”.

Last week the Bishop of Eisenstadt, Paul Iby, said in a newspaper interview: ‘It should be left up to every priest whether he wants to live a life of voluntary celibacy or in a family.”

“Rome is too timid in such questions,” Bishop Iby told the daily Die Presse, adding that priests should be allowed to choose whether they would like to marry to counteract the falling number of vocations. “But nothing is moving ahead in Rome,” he said.

Celibacy has been required of Catholic clergy since the early Middle Ages. However, it was not imposed in the early Church, and, according to Gospel accounts, St Peter was a married man.

Some senior Catholics, including Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, have linked paedophile priest scandals to the issue of celibacy. The Vatican has denied any such link, pointing out that in secular society paedophilia is often committed by married men.

Sometimes it can be tempting even to ask the question that Bob Ellis asked a few weeks ago, "Why not bomb the Vatican, and riddle the Pope with bullets as he staggers out of the flames?" Of course, he was exaggerating to make a point about double standards when it comes to dealing with different types of victimizers (in this case, countries that "harbor" terrorists vs. an organization that has knowingly harbored pedophiles). But sometimes you have to wonder if that's the magnitude of action it would take to get these myopic dinosaurs to respond, as they obviously don't care at all about the disaffection of great numbers of the laity.

So many trads seem all keen on the idea of burning heretics because they "spiritually murder" others. Yet they were all up in arms over Mr Ellis's hyperbole, even though this administration in the Vatican are basically just spiritual terrorists at this point, holding the whole Church hostage while on an apparent suicide mission to crash it into the ground, destroying everything good and beautiful in it piece by piece, while retaining all the accidental institutional aspects that make people miserable...

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