The crisis in the U.S. Catholic Church lumbers along.
We were still reeling from the Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sexual misconduct and hierarchical cover-up when a disgruntled archbishop released a scathing letter calling for Pope Francis to resign. Now, many states are launching probes into diocesan files, a good thing.
Here’s the view from my pew:
A scandal within a scandal is that some people are continuing to exploit it to foster their own conservative or liberal agendas. Among our latest three popes, there are no heroes on the sex abuse issue. Let’s bring this into the light.
I’m sick of patriarchy. Jesus sent Mary of Magdala out as the “apostle to the apostles” to spread news of his resurrection. Not long after, a group of guys said, “Let’s put the little women in charge of the funeral luncheons.” It’s been downhill from there. Women need to be in decision-making positions, now.
I’m tired of clericalism. The boys’ club, Father knows best, the priest-on-a-pedestal. Let’s throw open windows at seminaries. How are these guys taught about women, sexuality, the priesthood of the faithful?
I spoke recently with a man who teaches at a college seminary. He said hopefully that in the last year or two the men he encounters are less “rigid” than in the recent past. How many of the “rigid” ones were ordained? Again, not a liberal/conservative issue.
Considering leaving? Don’t. I understand why people are angry or emotional right now. OK, maybe you need to regroup. But then come back to church. You are the church. Are the homilies stultifying, the liturgies and music discouraging? Speak up.
In my old parish in Anchorage, Alaska, an older gentleman would put his critique of that day’s homily in the collection basket every Sunday. I used to think the old man was eccentric. Now, I think he was a genius.
If you are going to vote with your feet to find a new parish, explain to the parish and your bishop why you’re moving. A relative of mine left his parish in a presidential election a few years back because homilies were all but endorsing one candidate. But he never explained why he left. Don’t miss that opportunity.
Speak up, respectfully, lovingly, civilly and constantly.
Simply dropping out can be lazy. It’s easy to slide into a Sunday morning sleep-in, followed by buying your own doughnuts. This church is worth fighting for. When the first clergy sex abuse crisis hit in the early 2000s, a friend asked me mournfully, “What happened to our church of the monks and the mystics?”
It’s still there, but we have to search for it.
Thinking of withholding donations in protest? Granted, money talks. But there are many great parishes and many great pastors. Don’t take your anger out on the good ones. All our gifts come from God, so do not use this crisis as an excuse to put a death grip on your wallet.
How much should you give? A deacon friend used to answer, “Give more.” Catholics do amazing work with the poor. Continue to donate to a good parish, and then, find a Catholic institution working on the margins — Catholic Relief Services, Jesuit Refugee Service, your own diocese’s Catholic Charities, a Catholic school serving an impoverished clientele, a home for unwed moms — and give more.
We are the body of Christ, quite literally, as St. Teresa of Avila points out. Right now, that body is bruised, broken and being taken down from a cross.
Is that the time to flee or be silent? I don’t think so.
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# TIME’S UP! I recommend reading/studying my Doctoral Dissertation: The Religious Context of Misogynous Relational Violence: An Ethnographic Study. Conclusions: Repudiation of the feminine; Idolotry of maleness; elevation of the patriarchy & white, male ideology, which denies & represses in itself all that is negative (feminine) & projects onto “others” in a process of ‘objectification’ resulting in violence & abuse. The ‘tyranny’ of the patriarchy is dangerous & destructive & must be broken. For an egalitarian society, a new paradigm is essential. This violence is embedded in our church & must be ‘rooted out’ or our church cannot live.
This is a great article. The depravity and abuses so pervasive in our institutional Church are an abuse of power first and foremost. Where I would differ a little with Ms. Caldarola is, while I support ordaining women, that won’t address the abuse of power, it would just diversify the elites. Clericalism, I agree, is very much the problem. We need to democratize the Church; the laity should be leading not following.
Patriarchy and clericalism are two different things. There is only one priesthood in Christ, for both male and female; but there are different participations in the one priesthood (CCC 1546 and 1547). There isn’t a special Holy Spirit for the hierarchy. We can all contribute.
Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium 12 says: “The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One,(111) [cf. 1 Jn 2:20, 27] cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” (8*) [Cf. 1 Cor. 10: 17] they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth.”
Patriarchy in administrative positions does not detract from this.
“I’m sick of patriarchy.”
“Women need to be in decision-making positions, now.”
“I’m tired of clericalism. The boys’ club, Father knows best, the priest-on-a-pedestal.”
“A scandal within a scandal is that some people are continuing to exploit it to foster their own conservative or liberal agendas.”
… an unrelated agenda like making women priests? … smells a little hypocritical …
This article arrived right on time!
I have been so angry and so sad concerning this latest grand jury report in Pennsylvania. I have spoken with my parish priest, I have written to my current bishop in Philadelphia and the bishop of Harrisburg (where I grew up). I received a weak email response at best, and it is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to get anyone on the phone at diocesan offices. WE NEED CHANGE. Parishoners need to be heard, and accountability must be demanded. Thank you for the important points you present in your article!!
Rigid, You sound like Pope Francis. Not one mention of the Homosexuality problem.
Agreed. No one wants to actually deal with the homosexual subculture and the filth that is happening all over, least of all Pope Francis. His closest advisers are part of it as are his mouthpieces like Cupich. The laity are angry and until this is addressed and all rooted out, nothing will change or be solved.