Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Recovering Catholic


My name is Joe.

I am a recovering Catholic.

Sometimes I post this online and I get a response along the lines of, "How can you question the one true church like this?"

Luke 17:2 (since we are talking about Catholicism the quotes are from http://www.catholic.org/bible )

It would be better for such a person to be thrown into the sea with a millstone round the neck than to be the downfall of a single one of these little ones.

Do you believe in the Trinity? Do you believe in the Gospels? If you do, then this is the Word of God. Direct. No question. No wiggle room. As powerful as the Golden Rule and as humble as the Our Father.

I am in no way advocating dropping pedophiles with a modified collar from the Ben Franklin Bridge. (Although images circulated on YouTube could go viral real fast.) But after reading and seeing the scandals involving the Church covering up this behavior, should there be more people fitted for millstones?

What was an American issue jumped the pond to Ireland and is now exploding in the Pope's Bavarian Archdiocese. Papal infallibility, I think not. This stuff has gone on for DECADES. There is a complete disconnect from reality here.

What needs to be done?

I don't have a clue how to cure those hurt with the weapon of a collar and cassock. The emotional distress of being duped by those who asked for, no demanded, trust creates fissures in the psyche that can be studied for lifetimes. Not just in the first victim - but the ripple effect of the families can be just as devastating.

In our society, we seem to think that throwing money at a problem is a solution that will do something. Those offended can sue, but then we begin to see the even uglier dance of the Church defending itself in court. The pretzel logic that will somehow excuse those who put themselves on a pedestal from being brought down - does nothing. It is in fact even more offensive to see the guilty circle the wagons and hunker down into a siege mentality.

Is God already punishing the Church for these indiscretions? How many vocations are being sought? When you drive by sprawling St. Charles Borromeo Seminary on the border of Philadelphia you realize this institution houses a handful of men. (As alterboys, we were given the chef's tour of the place and told that its underground hallways were once the longest in the world prior to the building of the Pentagon.)

The Church, if it wants to start following the spirit of the Gospels, needs to apologize publically and start selling its possessions. What good is this prime real estate on the Main Line doing those who have been wronged? What about the Vatican Museum with its gold chalices and world class art and artifacts. If they cannot bring themselves to sell the stuff in the family attic, rent it to people for life. If Christianity is about spirituality, then we don't need the material goods. This is about the credibility.

A larger set of questions begin to assert themselves.

Those who stay in the Church will still need ministering by the good priests who remain. Since vocations have dropped thru the floor, who will replace the retiring priests? Do we import? From where? This pedophile issue is global.

St Paul writes to Titus about being an elder - Titus 1:5-8

The reason I left you behind in Crete was for you to organize everything that still had to be done and appoint elders in every town, in the way that I told you, that is, each of them must be a man of irreproachable character, husband of one wife, and his children must be believers and not liable to be charged with disorderly conduct or insubordination. The presiding elder has to be irreproachable since he is God's representative: never arrogant or hot-tempered, nor a heavy drinker or violent, nor avaricious; but hospitable and a lover of goodness; sensible, upright, devout and self-controlled

Hmmm, St Paul is telling the early church to use family men as leaders. Maybe it is time to get back to our roots as Christians? Family men as priests, why not? Most Eastern Rite and Protestant Churches do it. We can talk about Peter's mother-in-law.

Hey, thinking of Peter's mother-in-law, do you think she would make a good priest? Maybe once we get some of these folks who are not based in reality out of positions of power in the Church, we can get some clear thinking people in to act as elders (bishops and cardinals).

This issue is first about the Church owning up to the damage done. How it handles this will give the Church the level of credibility it will live with for the next generations.

The Church can continue to be stubborn and admit nothing. It can live outside the Gospel Teaching and use the logic of the Pharisees to defend itself while injecting itself into the political discourse where ever it wants. It can use its might to slow down healthcare reform or push for its Pro-Life agenda. It will do so as a large political organization that is a courted political group.

I can continue to be a recovering Catholic.

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