A Clash of Catholic “Civilizations”
Understanding why the Church seems to be drifting far out at sea……
I was awakened by a vivid dream last night….A wrinkled old dinosaur, clutching a mighty crosier and crowned with a golden miter, sat perched on an iceberg drifting in the ocean. The more he roared and shook his crosier, the more the iceberg cracked and sank deeper into the icy water.
Roman Catholic leadership seems more and more like a club of old dinosaurs, caught in a clash of civilizations.
Just as we have seven sacraments, I see seven forces clashing and exploding in a dramatic confrontation that is really just beginning.
A sketch of what I see:
(1) Ongoing international sexual abuse: pedophilia, sexual use and abuse of women (often women religious) by members of the clergy, clandestine and widespread hypocritical homosexual activity by bishops and priests (even in higher Vatican circles), increased sexual repression and arrested sexual development in Pope Benedict’s reform-of-the-reform seminary programs of priestly formation.
(2) A Vatican imposed institutional regression to a nineteenth century Catholic ethos that stresses: an arrogant triumphalist church glorying in its own grandeur, a church structure in which ordained are superior to the non-ordained, an approach to liturgy which stresses symbol and ritualistic rigorism as more important than the liturgical assembly, an anthropology that once again tends toward male exclusiveness, an approach to human sexuality that is more genital oriented than human person oriented, an approach to Christian morality that is narrow-mindedly and often pathologically preoccupied with sexual behavior and is blind to a broad range of other ethical concerns and issues.
(3) Increasingly around the world and particularly in Europe and North America Catholic laypeople moving away from being duty-bound Catholics to being men and women engaged (or not engaged) in the Church and Church activities because they do (or do not) find them meaningful. They have no interest in faulty products.
(4) In the minds of increasing large numbers of Catholics there is a realization that the Roman Catholic church-experience is simply one legitimate form of the Church of Christ but not the only legitimate expression of the Church of Christ.
(5) It is just about impossible to justify today the high Renaissance clothing, pompous ritual and ecclesiastical nobility in which members of the hierarchy parade, pontificate, and operate. (Kissing bishops’ rings and calling them “eminence” or “excellency” is not just oldfashioned. It is wrong.
(6) After the American and French Revolutions, the rationality of the Enlightenment, and an enhanced understanding of the nature of the Church based on the Christian Scriptures, the monarchical papacy is not only nonsensical but offensive and an obstruction to genuine Christian community….the Body of Christ.
(7) The Church can no longer control the flow of information, cannot control how people seek to discover the truth nor what they discover to be the truth, nor can the Church any longer control human thought. We are indeed free at last…….
Let’s put the dinosaurs in a museum. Or as Jesus said: Let the dead bury the dead. Let’s recommit ourselves to being contemporary followers of the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
The Church is not dead. It just needs extensive rehabilitation…..