Tuesday, November 24, 2020

*SIGH* A post-Christian Catholic Church?

 

Two headlines caught my eye during the past week.  Both make me sad, angry and depressed about the once-great institution known as the Catholic Church.  Long-term readers will know why:  for those who don't, see the articles in the sidebar on the subject, particularly this one.

The first report, from the BBC, discusses the ongoing scandal in the Diocese of Buffalo, NY.


New York's Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against the Buffalo Catholic Diocese, alleging its leaders protected priests accused of child sex abuse.

. . .

The lawsuit, which included a 218-page report on the two-year investigation into the diocese, alleges that though leaders found sex abuse complaints to be credible, they protected the accused.

They also failed to properly supervise or monitor these priests, the lawsuit claims.

By instead marking them as "unassignable", the accused were able to retire or take leave, while receiving benefits, rather than being potentially removed from the clergy by the Vatican.

. . .

In addition, the suit seeks to hold the two bishops who oversaw the alleged cover-up, Bishop Richard Malone and Auxiliary Bishop Edward Grosz individually responsible.

They are accused of violating nonprofit and estate, powers and trusts laws.

. . .

Bishop Malone resigned last December amid accusations of covering up abuses, while Bishop Grosz retired this March.

The state report says in a number of instances, priests were allowed to remain in ministry or falsely classified as retired, on medical leave or sabbatical when they were in fact removed over allegations of abuse.

One priest was allowed to remain in ministry out of state even after the diocese learned of eight alleged sexual abuse cases involving young girls, the report states.

Another who was found by the church to have groomed a minor and "engaged in inappropriate sexual misconduct with adults" was also allowed to remain.

Other priests in the diocese were accused of other abuses, including taking minors to see pornographic movies, discussing inappropriate topics, and molesting young girls and altar boys.


There's (unfortunately) more at the link.

Note that both accused bishops resigned or retired only within the last year.  In other words, though the extent of this scandal in the wider Church has been publicly exposed for almost two decades, both are alleged to have continued the cover-up as if nothing had happened.  They appear to have assumed they could get away with it forever.

The second report alleges that an attitude of "so what?" appears to be a lot more common among Catholic prelates than it should be.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.


Anybody who bothers to slog through the Vatican’s mountainous report on the McCarrick scandal will not emerge from the experience enlightened. The report’s revelations, to the extent they exist, are inadvertent. The chief one, evident in the feckless epistolary back-and-forth documented in the report, is that McCarrick would remain an honored cardinal to this day were it not for credible accusations against him involving underage teens. Take those charges away, and he would still be popping up at the Vatican for meetings with the pope. That McCarrick had corrupted countless seminarians and priests by pressuring them into his bed simply didn’t shock churchmen, whose standards seemed considerably lower than those of the pagan world.

. . .

The testimony of ... McCarrick enablers only serves to highlight the report’s dishonesty. It is a very selective, self-serving, and above all score-settling document. A great deal of it is directed toward refuting former papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who urged the Vatican to cashier McCarrick. But this material isn’t very convincing. Indeed, many of the footnotes in a roundabout way confirm Viganò’s testimony. Did Pope Francis know about McCarrick’s past? Yes. Did he do anything about it? No.

. . .

The report, of course, says nothing about the existence of the gay mafia in the Church that elected Pope Francis and that has been receiving plum positions ever since. McCarrick had been part of that bloc. Though he couldn’t vote in the conclave, he acknowledged “talking” Francis up to other prelates. What role that played in the pope’s ginger handling of McCarrick naturally goes unaddressed.

. . .

The impression left by all the excuse-making for McCarrick (with some bishops pretending that his sleeping with seminarians was non-sexual) is that of a hopelessly decayed bureaucracy, utterly indifferent to holiness or orthodoxy.

. . .

But what does all of this faux-transparency add up to? Nothing. Not a single one of McCarrick’s “nephews” — from Cardinal Cupich in Chicago (his honoring of McCarrick goes unmentioned in the report) to Cardinal Tobin in Newark — has been stripped of any power. If anything, they have gained some since McCarrick’s defrocking ... McCarrick is gone, but his influence remains, even extending through Farrell to the next pope. Don’t be surprised if that future pope is a McCarrick crony, too.


Again, more at the link.

Let me highlight one sentence from that news report.  It's the true heart of the matter.


The impression ... is that of a hopelessly decayed bureaucracy, utterly indifferent to holiness or orthodoxy.


Tragically, I couldn't have put it better myself.

There are undoubtedly some good, Godly bishops in the Catholic Church, but they appear to be far from the actual corridors of power - the senior bishoprics and archbishoprics, the Cardinals, the Roman Curia (the bureaucrats who administer the Church worldwide), and those who have the power and authority to make changes.  Those in charge dithered, dissembled and obfuscated all through the clergy sex abuse scandal as it unfolded in the early 2000's, and it looks very much as if they're still doing precisely the same thing.  Nothing has changed.

During the ordination of a bishop, the open Book of the Gospels is placed upon the candidate's head, as a public affirmation and reminder that "the preaching of the Word of God is the pre-eminent obligation of the office of the Bishop".  Preaching involves far more than words alone.  A famous dictum attributed to St. Francis of Assisi tells us, "Preach the Gospel at all times.  If necessary, use words."  Another time-honored (albeit secular) maxim tells us that "Actions speak louder than words".  What do the actions - or inactions - of Catholic bishops in the face of the clergy sex abuse scandal tell us about their fidelity to their "pre-eminent obligation"?

Many faithful Catholics have wept many tears over the way the Catholic Church has (failed to) respond to this crisis.  Sadly, they aren't in a position to do anything about it as far as the institution is concerned.  As individuals?  Well, some years ago Rod Dreher wrote 'The Benedict Option', to suggest a way for faithful Christians to uphold and live out their beliefs in a post-Christian society.



Perhaps we're going to need the Benedict Option as a way to uphold and live out our beliefs in a post-Christian Catholic Church as well.

Peter


19 comments:

froginblender said...

... and in a more general sense, think about how to be free in a post-freedom world.

Because there isn't going to be a Boogaloo. No successful uprising by Patriots against the oligarchs, Deep State and the communists.

Instead, the coming genocides engineered by the mighty will dwarf everything we've seen in the 20th century. Insane sociopaths and their enablers have grabbed power, it can only get much worse.

Keep your printed books. They will soon alter, restrict, expunge all literature that promotes freedom of thought. E-books are not safe.

If you want to take up arms in guerilla warfare. Go ahead, I won't join you. I'll be in the nonviolent underground. Probably I'll get ratted out at some point and sent to gulag or have my government food rations cut to zero.

But I will have lived some years longer than you, in which time I hope to be talking to as many young people as I can. They will carry the torch after we are gone.

Paul, Dammit! said...

Websites like 1Peter5 and Churchmilitant are being labeled as extremist and far right... for calling for accountability and for following the dogma and catechism of the church properly. For, in effect, being an observant Catholic.

Groups like SSPX who ARE far right, form as a result of things like this. Warts and all, I can't help but think that any future of the Catholic church will rest with traditionalist groups.

Keith A Collins DVM said...

I would encourage those who are familiar with Rod Dreher to read his last book Live Not By Lies. You may not agree with everything in the book but his main point that a time of suffering is coming for those of us who hold on to our faith and that most of us are not ready is not easily dismissed. If you find merit in the book pass it on to others. Yes I have the printed copies and more than one and plan on give these away. Rod Dreher also can be found on the American Conservative site and it is worth while to keep up with his daily writing. I am not Catholic but keep up with much of what is currently taking place especially though reading First Things. This is very important to all of us of faith no matter what tradition you approach God from.

Keith A Collins DVM

lee n. field said...

I was just going to suggest "Live Not By Lies". I'm almost done with it now.

McChuck said...

You may notice that the Church was the first target of our enemies. They successfully took over the management of the seminaries in the 19th century. (The Adversary is patient, and lays his plans deeply.)

Dov Sar said...

Come out of her My people, that you don't participate in her sins and receive of her plagues. God brings persecution because He loves us. God exposes this sin because He loves us. Satan has been running the official church since Jesus came the first time.

ASM826 said...

Of course there is something for Christians to do. Do not provide them with any more funds. Any individual church could take control of the operation in 2 weeks. Empty collection plates speak with a loud voice.

The U.S. Roman Catholic Church might take a month. But about a month of absolutely no money coming in and it would force those men who think they have absolute power to realize that the people in the pews that provide them with donations are actually in charge.

I walked away and brushed the dust from my shoes years ago, but I have always known that it could be restored any time the people want.

SimonJester said...

The next schism is long overdue.

Beans said...

It was evident that the Church is no longer the Church of Peter when they elected the Commie Pope. I've never seen a high church official do more to destroy the Catholic Church than the current Pope.

I've said it for years. I didn't leave the Catholic Church, it left me.

Dad29 said...

I don't think it's necessary to remind you, but.......

Bishops (and priests) are not "the Church." They are a part, of course, but like every body in this vale of tears, there are some parts which are diseased, and some which are not.

Mark said...

As a recent convert (Confirmed last August) to Catholicism from the Episcopal Church (talk about a church that's lost its way), I struggled over the move largely because of the sex abuse scandal. I decided to convert largely because, as a former Anglican I'm part of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter and not under my local Diocese, and our Bishop strikes me as a good, Godly man who won't tolerate what others have.

I firmly believe the Church is headed for a new Reformation, like like Luther's, but like that of St Francis of Asisi, bringing her back to where she should never have left. I likely won't live to see it as much as I'd like to.

Still, at the end of the day, we muddle along doing the best we can and count on Grace to supply what we lack.

Etaoin Shrdlu said...

As an evangelical Christian, it is hard to know what to say which can be edifying or encouraging. Sometimes it is difficult even to understand exactly what is meant, because many of the words both groups use are even defined differently. But I can express good will, and prayerful support, personally, and for all those of the most ancient church Christendom has. I hope what follows is useful, it is well-meant. It's also too long, sorry!

A long time ago I had a Roman Catholic coworker whom I got to know and respect for his character and his willingness to expend his time and energy to serve his church. He was, if I remember the situation correctly, a layman in training to be a deacon, who volunteered his lunchtime one weekday each week to assist with communion at a nearby church as they were short of priests. I have met few evangelicals who were more serious about living what you believe! He did things sort of alien to me, like using a prayer card (I think one was St. Teresa) in his cubicle to assist in moments of personal devotions/prayer. All this is prelude to an instance of our two brains failing (in a nice way) to communicate. The Boston area's Catholics were reeling from an long, ongoing, very public pedophile abuse scandal, and I asked, like a good protestant, "But how is it that this is just allowed to go on?"

I'm not naive, I know that bad people creep in to any system, and churches I've been in have certainly had problems. His answer, which seemed perfectly reasonable to him, I'm sure, but was gobsmacking to me, was: "Well, the Church has got to suffer." I'm not mocking, but it was like we lived in different realities.

It all seems so clear from the outside, where I am, that those who live as unrepentant unbelievers, no matter who they are, should be rebuked and removed entirely. And what God says is sin must be condemned, and what He blesses must be approved. As professing Christians we both believe deeply in repentance and redemption, and I'm talking particularly about homosexuality and marriage, as regards clergy. If the answer to me is 'you just don't understand why is not possible' then I can't imagine how change for the better can occur, and good people will keep getting hurt.

Francis Turner said...

All that may be the background to this joke:

The Pope was working at his desk when the phone rings."Hello, this is the Pope."
He immediately recognized the voice at the other end of the line. "My son, this is Jesus Christ. I have called you to give you some good news and some bad news. The good news is that I have returned to the Earth to lead the faithful to Heaven."
The Pope was ecstatic! He said, "My Lord,what could possibly be bad news on this wonderful day?"
Jesus replied, "I'm calling from Salt Lake City."

Greg said...

The Lavender Mafia in the Vatican is very real and very, very powerful. Cross them and you WILL get whacked. Much like our Deep State here.

Jimmy the Saint said...

@froginblender: "Probably I'll get ratted out at some point and sent to gulag or have my government food rations cut to zero.

But I will have lived some years longer than you, in which time I hope to be talking to as many young people as I can. They will carry the torch after we are gone."

Those young people that you're talking to? They'll be the ones who rat you out. Our younger generations love them some tyranny.

Dave said...

There are plenty of things that local churches can do on their own.
-Actually meet for worship instead of sanctioning or masking worship. Those who need to mask can, but don't order masking and don't let the state say what to do or not.
-Support the preachers and churches that are already defying unconstitutional and illegal orders.
-Pray without ceasing that God would cleanse the church and allow preachers to preach the Word with conviction.
-Start taking communion every week as was done decades ago.

This is an interesting program on the current problems facing Christians today. Warning -- you'll love it or hate it.
FaceBook
https://www.facebook.com/CrossPolitic/videos/177052524067596/?epa=SEARCH_BOX
or YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3PK-_mW3xQ

Most of all, remember that Jesus Christ is in charge of everything that is going on right now. Not a single back room deal isn't known. Our God will not be mocked and Christians need to be strong in the Lord during this time.

Dave

Will Brown said...

Were you to ask an Orthodox (either flavor) priest post-Communion Mass, he might let slip the opinion that the Roman Church effectively always has been post-Christian.

No dog in this fight personally, but I always find it amusing when critics (proponents of the faith are even more entertaining) of Christianity leave the earliest examples of practitioners of the faith out of the discussion entirely.

Clayton W. said...

I classify myself as a Militant Agnostic, so my opinions probably don't matter. I have met good Catholic priests. One helped my family when my Uncle came down with Aids, administered last rites to him against Church policy, and donated a piece of his vestments to the Names Quilt. A kind and loving man.

The Church has also done unimaginable harm over thee years. Look to Ireland and unwed mothers, for instance. The behavior of the Church over this scandal, and especially to the victims, has been abhorrent.

That said, I do think we have to differentiate between pre-2002 behavior and post scandal behavior. Some of the behavior prior to the Globe's expose can be explained by thinking, especially at the lower levels, that this was an isolated incident that could greatly damage the Church. I'm not condoning it, mind, just saying that I can understand it.

After the expose, no member of the Church could seriously claim that it was an isolated incident. The Church should have ruthlessly and unequivocally rooted out all of these crimes. That is the only way they could have restored faith in the clergy. And without faith, what is any religion?

I wish the Buffalo article had more specifics. They imply that the behavior continued post 2002, but does not say when the abuses occurred and when, or if, they stopped.

Roy said...

Okay...

I have asked this question on here multiple times but have yet to receive an answer - any answer.

What, exactly, is a "credible accusation"?