EDITORS NOTE: I view these types of screeds as not only proof of the unavoidable demise of liberal Catholicism, but as a true sign of purification. Wherein the false christ and false church of the past 40-years or so is being replaced with authentic spiritual renewal…
Any New Evangelization must always be based on truth, and for too long both spiritual and moral truth within the Church have taken a back seat to the ruling spirit of this world. Folks like Mr. Slavick below have been led to believe they are fighting the good fight. They are not. They’re merely fighting against the spiritual-moral truth of God. After all, God wills the salvation of sinful men, not the salvation of their sins. To use the current crises as a vehicle for a false reformation will only end in defeat. So, we must pray for true reform and conversion…
PORTLAND – The clueless Roman Catholic hierarchs and their apologists can moan endlessly about “the petty gossip of dominant opinion” and anti-Catholic bias. That did not work for Cardinal Bernard Law nor will it now. The Vatican’s Teflon shield is shattered.
In truth, John Paul II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, fearing loss of patriarchal control, conspired to slam shut the windows the Second Vatican Council opened to the modern world and shore up the battlements of the Church Triumphant and celibate male power. That campaign has been, for the Church, on all fronts a disaster. Now revelations of the Vatican subordinating care for children to the “Church’s” reputation demands a reckoning.
Both hierarchs rejected the Council’s first fruit—Latin America’s liberation theology and implementation of a preferential option for the poor, initiating a precipitous decline there. The Vatican was removing the Salvadoran poor’s champion, Archbishop Oscar Romero, when he was assassinated for protesting death squad killings.
They dumped on out of step theologians—Hans Kûng, Leonardo Boff, Charles Curran, and Tisa Balasuriya.
They have carved away at the Council’s well-prepared, almost unanimously approved and welcomed liturgical reforms, again distancing the celebrant from the assembly; now mandating sexist Latinate language that won’t pray, and encouraging the Tridentine Mass that reduces the assembly to audience.
Despite 60’s warnings that sex abusers should not continue in ministry, the hierarchy continued to coddle abusers and threaten, silence, shame, dupe, or buy off victims to put the appearance of a pure institution before the dignity, innocence, and healing of victims. John Paul II and bribed curial cardinals sheltered the Legionnaires of Christ founder-abuser and big Vatican fund-raiser. Ratzinger ordered bishops to keep abuse information secret and slowed defrocking processes.
The Church is imploding, suffering the largest defection ever in the turn on Council reforms, re-emphasis on doctrine over living the Gospel, abandonment of John XXIII’s pursuit of peace and justice for the poor, rejection of women’s equality and birth control, sex obsessions, denial of the Eucharist and pastoral care to half of the faithful for lack of male celibate priests, and continued failure to act responsibly regarding priest abuse.
To reassert authority, the patriarchy has engaged in a heartless war on “objectively disordered” gays and lesbians that runs roughshod over their dignity and human rights and flouts Vatican II recognition of church-state separation, religious liberty, and primacy of conscience. In Maine, the anti-Marriage Equality campaign was, for many, the last straw.
By their fruit we know them. As Munich archbishop, Ratzinger turned a wolf loose on his sheep—still loose 20-odd years later. In Rome, his office opposed Wisconsin bishops defrocking a serial abuser of hundreds of deaf children, honoring his wish to die a priest before affirming his victims’ human worth. He refused to laicize a young California abuser for “the good of the Church.” These are unfathomable and unconscionable, betrayals of pastoral trust.
Benedict XVI’s defenders claim that he has done everything possible about abuse—everything except the essential—putting the healing of the abuse victims foremost by affirming their dignity. That requires holding abusers accountable, ending legal stonewalling, removing hundreds of complicit bishops, and recognizing Vatican culpability. He and they still don’t get it: their first pastoral obligation is to give succor to the wounded. His defenders continue to substitute for accountability ridiculous excuse-making that further diminishes victims. The words of Chaucer’s Parson echo endlessly: the “shitten shepherd and the clene sheep.”
It is time for an humble Benedict XVI to search his conscience, to acknowledge that fear of change, patriarchal authoritarianism, and righteousness have led the Church into a moral morass. It is time for him to recognize that his temporizing while thousands more were victimized; his refusal to acknowledge his and Vatican’s wrongs, and his lack of care and compassion for still wounded victims make him unfit to lead the People of God—time to resign.
Before he goes, he should remove bishops and cardinals who have been party to that misdirection and abuse cover up. Then he should ask the consistory to pray to John XXIII and Oscar Romero for intercessions in picking a new Bishop of Rome committed to being a faithful servant and shepherd of the People of God.
Otherwise, it is time for beleaguered priests, religious, and laity to petition for Benedict’s removal, as Boston’s priests did to remove Law—to tell the patriarchs everywhere, plainly and forcefully, that the jig is up. They must go and allow the Gospel to bloom out of the hearts of the faithful.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
William H. Slavick is a retired USM professor and long-time coordinator of Pax Christi Maine.