Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Defending the Church

It seems that every article, or statement these days in defence of the Catholic Church unfortunately only serves to widen the church's credibility gap. Radio and TV talkshow personality Michael Coren's recent contribution simply adds more fuel to the raging storm. Mr. Coren is so upset, with those who call for greater honesty and change within the church, that he has resorted to label them as 'clowns' and 'assorted exploiters'.

Church Officials and some supporters simply refuse to recognize that the real problem came from WITHIN the Church – not outside or somewhere else. It did not come from a 'messianic clown', not from Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Catholics' who are dissolutioned with the Church, gays, feminist or people outside the church who hold grudges against the church. The problem has long been identified as being endemic and systemic. And, any repentance that therefore needs to take place must take place WITHIN the Church – not somewhere else!

It would not surprise anyone to discover that the root of the problem may lie with the legacy of St. Augustine and his preoccupation linking sex with sin. Augustine who struggled with lust throughout his life has come under increasing criticism in recent times for his excessive sexual pessimism. Benedict's preferred theology follows that of St. Augustine who linked sex so strictly with procreation that he held as sinful all sexual activity by married couples that was not consciously ordained to procreation. During the middle Ages, as the sexual body became to be seen as evil, the self flagellation of body hatred became the highest form of devotion. To quote James Carroll "The sexual body now became an "occasion of sin" to be subdued". Among Augustine's many teachings such as 'original sin' he believed that people tend toward evil. This theology especially on sexuality continues to influence the Church's position on such matters as celibacy, contraception, abortion, masturbation, premarital sex, and homosexual relations. A healthier approach to sexuality is needed. Perhaps we could begin by reading 'The Song of Songs'.

I can understand the desire by many to take away the shame and guilt from the institution but PLEASE don't let it stand in the way of the healing for the real victims. Coren's remarks about the role of women in the church are not only outdated but condescending. His reference to women who acquiesce to church rules as 'good Catholic women' makes a mockery about Jesus' teaching about equality. We are all equal in the eyes of God; but apparently not so for women in the eyes of the Church, and in many other places in society. The sinful woman at the well is an excellent example of what women are capable of – had she listened to the religious leaders (all men) of her time, including Jesus' own disciples, her town might never have been converted. Mr. Coren's shameful suggestion that women who want to be ordained should look to Protestant churches is typical of those apologists who claim to speak for the church as a whole. This is why Silenced Catholic theologian Carl Rahner could observe "the pluralism of religions . . . must therefore be the greatest scandal and the greatest vexation for Christianity.

It took the Church nearly four hundred years to admit Galileo was right. But similar theological changes will be necessary to bring healing to the sexual abuse crisis. Its hierarchical leadership structure and the theological basis which supports it demands it. This structure is clearly visible when members of the clergy view themselves as elevated above rather than totally integrated with the laity. Jesus taught equality not superiority. Jesus clearly denounced earthly kingdoms during his time in the dessert. The Church seems more interested in protecting a religious kingdom with a power that reaches beyond that of the people and nations it serves. The theology of 'apostolic succession' along with the claim that Jesus came to found a separate church not only denies Jesus' Jewish heritage but also his call to EVERYONE to bring about a worldwide community based on God's kingdom values. As long as the Church sees itself as special and separate from the world it cannot be expected to look inwardly. Hence the required changes will probably not take place unless someone speaks out!. Have you also forgotten that It was only in recent times that Popes apologized for the offences that took place during the Crusades, Inquisition and the scandalous persecution of the Jews. Change in the Church is the dynamic of the Holy Spirit. To resist, and call it 'Church bashing' would contradict your brash claim of being 'brutally honest' and condemn all those Saints who had the courage to call for change in their time,

I e-mailed Mr. Coren accordingly.

Only this morning April 21, 2010 CBC Radio The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti featured the most incriminating article about the Roman Catholic Church to-date. The program was introduced on-line by the CBC as follows:

Bishop's Man - Anna Maria Tremonti talks to Patrick Wall, a former Catholic Priest and Benedictine Monk. For several years, he was what's known as a "Fixer" in the Catholic Church. He was parachuted into parishes where the former Priest had been caught up in a sexual abuse scandal. He eventually quit the church and now he works as a legal consultant for the victims of sexual abuse.

For almost a decade, Patrick Wall played a special role in the Roman Catholic Church. A priest and a Benedictine Monk... he was also what's known as a "Fixer." He would be parachuted into a parish in the aftermath of allegations of sexual abuse. His job was to right the situation. And quickly, he became adept at making scandals go away.

But over time, Patrick Wall became conflicted about the role he was playing. Eventually, his concerns pushed him to leave the Priesthood. Now, Patrick Wall spends his days helping people who have been abused by Church officials. He's a legal consultant and a Canon Lawyer with the U.S. law firm Manly and Steward. He's also the author of Sex, Priests and Secret Codes: The Catholic Church's 2000 - Year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse. Patrick Wall was in Los Angeles.

I encourage readers to purchase Mr. Wall's book to discover the truth behind the Roman Catholic's greatest scandal.

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