Friday, December 18, 2009

THE CONTINUING SAD, SAD SAGA: The Reform of the Reform is more than Liturgy!

My comments first, to the "Irish Times" editorial below concerning the clerical sex abuse scandal currently roiling Ireland.

While the Catholic Church is holy because of her Founder and Head, Jesus Christ, not all Catholics are holy except for the grace of Jesus Christ within them. Clergy, religious and laity all suffer from the same malady, Original and actual sin. Thus we continue to have the saga of Original and actual sin affecting the Church in the most grotesque of ways, the sexual abuse of children and teenagers by corrupt and unholy priests and religious and the enablement of these sins and crimes by those in authority, namely the bishops themselves.

The Catholic Church in Ireland is the flash point right now. I've not seen any sociological statistics recently concerning the percentage of alcoholics in Ireland, but it is legend that the Irish love their whiskey, not to mention their brew. We all know that alcoholics deny their addiction and are enabled by those closest to them. Alcoholics are grand manipulators.

The bishops of Ireland and elsewhere seem to fit the category as enablers of priests and religious who abused scores of children. Perhaps it is the cronyism of that culture where the lines of friendship and authority are so blurred that those in authority are impotent to use their authority properly. In the culture of the priesthood this cronyism if you will or the strong friendship and bond of priestly brotherhood certainly contributes to the lack of an appropriate response to those who should not have been functioning as priests. This is clericalism at its worst and it is not tied into the function of the priest at the altar, but into the culture that creates a dysfunctional family. Keep in mind, most families would not turn in a father, brother, mother or other relative or close friend to the authorities for child sexual abuse either. Many spouses deny the behavior of a reckless spouse because the consequences of the behavior, if true, are too troubling to consider.

Please read the "Irish Times" editorial below. While I don't agree with all that is written, it certainly hits the nail on the head in terms of the "reform of the reform" which goes way beyond just liturgics. Your comments.

The Irish Times - Friday, December 18, 2009
Bishop Murray's resignation

THE FALL from grace of the Bishop of Limerick, Donal Murray, is a necessary and inevitable consequence of the Murphy report into the cover-up of child sexual abuse in the Dublin diocese. But it is by no means a sufficient response to the amorality and recklessness detailed in that grim document. Indeed, it would be grossly unfair to Dr Murray were he to be the sacrificial lamb who must atone for the collective sins of the Roman Catholic Church. If his departure were to be seen as the end, rather than the beginning, of a radical process of accountability, the implication would be that his behaviour was the exception rather than the rule. The truth is he operated a system that seems to have been universally applied throughout the church.

It would almost be comforting if Donal Murray’s tragedy were that of an evil man. It is actually much more profound than that. It is the tragedy of a decent man who was drawn into collusion with evil and who, even in his resignation statement showed no sign of understanding or accepting the consequences of his failures. Although he continued yesterday to try to excuse the inexcusable, there is no evidence that he set out to be cynical or cruel or that he was, in the ordinary course of events, indifferent to the sufferings of vulnerable children. Were he any of those things, the church could regard him as an aberrant and anomalous figure, a malignity in an otherwise healthy body. To realise that, on the contrary, he most probably believed himself to be acting properly and morally is to confront the unavoidable reality of a power structure that distorts the most basic impulses of human decency.

It is that larger system that has to make itself accountable.The Catholic Church is still far too deeply embedded within Irish society and retains far too much temporal power for this to be a matter of concern to the faithful alone. Undemocratic institutions who see themselves as answerable only to a God to whose will they believe they have privileged access, are a danger to society as a whole. Conversely, a complete change in the institutional church’s culture, away from the arrogance of power and towards the humility and openness of service, is the only way to make restitution for the terrible damage it has done.

That change has to start with something that the church itself demands of its flock – an honest confession. If the Pope and the Roman curia are as outraged as they have claimed to be, they should give us a detailed and complete account of their own dealings with child abuse cases in Ireland. They should start by handing over all relevant archives to the Murphy commission and every serving and retired Catholic bishop should open his own record to scrutiny.

More broadly, the Vatican and the Irish hierarchy must finally deal with an obvious truth. They must recognise that the accumulation of temporal and political power has ultimately not served the faith in which they purport to believe. It has corrupted and corroded it. If they are ever to renew that faith, they must learn how to be, not the shepherds of flocks of sheep, but the servants of citizens.


Templar said...

It is not so much that I take exception to the message that author of the article wishes to put forth; as it is the general tone of the article. It strikes me as disingenuous when journalists write about a clergy abuse scandal and end up concluding the problem is the Church, it's structure, it's authority, etc and the thrust of the article ends up being we have to destroy the Church because it's a threat to society. I reject that straw man. No one organization on this planet has done more good, for more people, for longer, than the Church. When teachers are caught abusing their students why is there no out cry against the board of education? Teacher abuse of students exceeds the rates of Clergy abuse in some reports, but we do not shine a light on, and in some outrageous cases, it has been winked at because it involves heterosexual abuse. The root of the problem with clerical abuse of minors is the elephant in the room which no one wants to address, and that is homosexuality. That stain entered our clergy through the Seminaries and through a liberal subculture among Priests in the 70s and 80s whose goal it was to change the nature of the Priesthood. Although largely defeated through the efforts of Pope JPII, they exist still today and still push their agenda.

Reform of the reform is certainly not all that is required to straighten the listing Barque of Peter, but their is at the ame time Truth to the saving "Save the Liturgy, Save the World." Lex orandi, lex credendi. The Liturgy is the Font and Summit of our Faith. If we can not fix it, if we will not fix it, no other reforms in the Church will matter. If we do fix it, it will be the solid foundation, our Rock, after Peter of course.

Gene said...

Well said, Templar.