Saturday, March 20, 2010

The fall and rise of the Roman Catholics?

The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church continues to hunker down against the outside world. The Irish child abuse scandal has been followed by a German abuse scandal and one in Brazil. The Irish Archbishop apologizes, but the apology rings hollow as a history of coverups and secrecy emerges. The German scandal worsens daily; the Irish scandal has blown up anew. The Vatican denies all responsibility and plays the victim.

A Vatican usher is implicated in a male prostitute ring.

Meanwhile in the US, the Bishops cede moral high ground on health care, only to be sharply rebuked by the nuns. Other voices join in.

The Vatican has launched an investigation of American nuns, who are pushing back against it. People speculate that the investigation is an effort to intimidate the liberal religious women, or to gain access to their resources to help pay off the American abuse scandals.

Powerful voices are calling to re-examine the place of women and the role of celibacy in the church. There are also demands for responsibility. An unhealthy and unnatural obsession with sex and fear of women seems to blind the old men in Rome who try to blame gays for their problems.

Are we seeing the crumbling of an institution, rotting from the top in the corruption of its prelate princes, to be saved only by a return to its roots? Perhaps the nuns will lead the way to a truer, more faithful church--not purer, but more, well, catholic. Perhaps it is time for the cardinals to give away their possessions to the poor, and for the faithful to bind up their sandals. Secrets can no longer be kept in an internet age, where the people are aware. It may be an equivalent revolution to the translation of the Bible into the vernacular, in empowering the laity. Perhaps this IS the emergent church.

As MadPriest writes,
I'm beginning to get an idea about "emergent" not being strictly a church thing, or even Christian thing. Maybe it's a new universal zeitgeist. The bosses, in politics, business and religion have let us down big time recently and capitalism has lost all claims to being our "saviour." Is the next shift in society a real move to "bottom up" paradigms? What part will the internet play in this? Can the emergent church (the bit based on liberation theology not evangelical leadership models) be a major player in this - even an initiator?


Anonymous said...

Dream on-the "liberal" nuns have an even older median age than the mainline protestants.
We should remove the tax privileges from all religious groups in the US. Separation of church and state now.

JCF said...

Oh look: Sad Brad is back!

...though ironically, SB does raise an interesting issue. (Related to MP's thought experiment)

Whenever someone talks about the shrinking of a liberal institution (like "liberal nuns" or mainline Protestants), the question OUGHT to be raised: is is because of the liberalism? [As Fundies would allege] Or is because the nature of "institution" no longer works so well in the 21st century? [See re "Bowling Alone"]

While it's facile to say (compared to "What the Church is Doing Wrong") "What are 'The Unchurched' Doing Right?" (being no more uniform than that "Un-"!), nevertheless, we have to rethink the nature of assembly (which, after all, is what "church" means).

An obvious comparison, is to see how "Bricks&Mortar" bookstores, have been replaced by Amazon. Unfortunately, I love BOTH Bricks&Mortar churches, AND bookstores!* But it's something we need to ponder...

[* And getting back to the other topic of this thread, it is B&M bookstores and churches, which provide dark (physical) corners, for creeps to hang out in and molest children. How do we create/maintain/ensure the safety of public spaces? Besides not hiring/hiding/promoting pedophiles?]

Anonymous said...

No, it's because of the fact that 'liberalism' isn't enough of a reason for people to be together; without a rational reason to give up your Sundays, why bother with religion? If you want to work for your political angle, you can do this without having to go to church; what does church add to the process?