Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Church and the World

During the just-concluded Lenten season, we were spared most of the usual avalanche of “debunking” of the Gospels by the mainstream media – not because they finally decided to leave off, but because they had – or so they thought – a real “story” to promote, namely that of the current troubles within the Church, and in particular the notion that the waters of scandal and disrepute have finally risen to engulf the Holy Father himself. His membership in the Hitler Youth has become a dead horse which only the most hard-core anti-Catholics are still determined to beat -- and the very fact that his membership in that organization was followed, decades later, by his elevation to the papacy has to count as something of a miracle; this aspect has, in my opinion, been neglected even by his defenders. His traditionalism and actions taken to restore tradition have offended “liberated” Catholics in the U.S., as well as militant secular Jews – but that is old news as well, because we now know that these are people who can never be satisfied, by anything. But – aha! -- now we have a chance to draw a straight line between Pope Benedict and abuses over the years in the church in Germany – but to what end? To defend those who have accused people within the Church of sexual abuse? I think a better measure of the true agenda can be found in a recent Newsweek article, which, in essence, is saying: “Abuses occurred on Benedict's watch as bishop of Munich, so there goes the Latin Mass .” And, hip hip hooray, three cheers, etc.

The article can be found at http://www.newsweek.com/id/235665?GT1=43002. And according to the collective wisdom of Newsweek – as “establishment” a periodical as one can imagine – Benedict's troubles have knocked the wheels off everything he has been trying to accomplish since his elevation to the papacy – like, for instance, the revival of the Latin Mass, defending Catholic exceptionalism, traditional morality, and rolling back Vatican II “reforms”. And when it comes to enticing disenchanted Anglicans to come over to Rome – well! You can say sayonara to that idea. (The Archbishop of Canterbury – AKA “Gabby Hayes in a mitre” -- must feel like these latest scandals came along just in time to prevent a mass exodus.)

Ah yes, what a cause for celebration! It recalls nothing so much as the sack of Rome by the barbarians – what did they have to offer? Well, nothing much, just “not Rome”. And that was sufficient cause for celebration. And you can bet that there are conga lines snaking through the offices of outfits like Newsweek – and probably “liberal” dioceses and parishes as well. “L'infame” has suffered a fatal blow and freedom is at hand. If only they knew that their “freedom” is the death of the spirit. But that is what they actually seem to want. Well, after all, the things of this world do not survive death – but neither will I; this seems to be their attitude. “Eat, drink, and be merry” -- and a curse on anyone who says there's a better way.

And what, pray tell, is the connection between these scandals and Pope Benedict's “conservative agenda”? Well, it's obvious, isn't it? If he can be accused, and found guilty of, criminal negligence when it comes to events in his former diocese in Germany, it not only calls into question, but effectively pulls the rug out from under, all of the reforms he has instituted in the Church – as if there is some sort of direct connection, and as if they even care one way or the other about those reforms. Except that they do, because the Church, as always, remains a thorn in the side of secularists, humanists, and revolutionaries of every stripe – and this is because any assertion by the Church, or its leader, of its true identity and its moral authority is seen, quite clearly, as a threat to their agenda. When they can persuade the Church, or elements thereof, to compromise, relinquish authority, and voluntarily sink into the warm, fetid bath of accommodation and “ecumenism”, then they have no problem with the Church – it can live on as an antique... as an island of superstition in a sea of enlightenment... as a place for little old Rosary-muttering ladies; that's OK. That way it's contained, and rendered impotent and non-threatening. But the minute it tries to assert itself in traditional or “conservative” ways, that spells trouble, and that's what has to be snuffed out by any means possible.

But think about the things that are overlooked in all of this hullabaloo. One is that, far from being a series of isolated cases of which each one constitutes “breaking news”, and a “death knell for the Catholic Church (and this time we really mean it)”, these scandals are really all of a piece with a sad trend over the past few decades, in which many people wound up in the priesthood or in other positions within the Church who should never have even gotten in the door... and this has been a world-wide phenomenon – although, curiously, much more intense in Europe and North America, the most secular parts of (formerly) Christendom. But why? Which is to say, why does the Church now discover that, within its ranks, there are so many misfits who have pursued their own agenda for years, or even decades? And of course part of the weirdness in all of this is that the secular press has, over the same period of time, decided that homosexuality is not only not a pathological condition but is, in fact, no more than an “alternative life style” which deserves honor and respect, and even preference, as a way of making reparation for past acts of intolerance and misunderstanding. So the party line becomes, in essence, “Homosexuality is a perfectly fine thing, but not when it's acted out by priests upon under-aged and powerless victims.” And to bolster the somewhat “schitzy” nature of this argument, the terminology “pedophile priests” has been universally adopted. Now, I've commented on this matter before, but, in brief, it's no more than a way to distance the misguided acts of a few from the now-universal acclaim for homosexuality in general. In other words, no one wants to admit that these offenders are, by and large, garden-variety homosexuals who happen to have preyed on people legally deemed “under-age”, even if sexually mature or verging on sexual maturity.

At least a few analysts have attempted to clarify things a bit by coming up with the terms “hebephilia” and “ephebophilia”, which are defined thusly:

“Hebephilia refers to the sexual preference for pubescent individuals. It differs from ephebophilia, which refers to the sexual preference for individuals in later adolescence.”

And both are contrasted with pedophilia, which refers to the sexual preference for prepubescent children. Now, I'm not aware of any statistics on the matter, but I would be willing to bet that, in the vast majority of cases – including those in the news at present – what was going on was instances of acted-out hebephilia or ephebophilia – and those impulses are quite common, if not universal, within the homosexual or “gay” community, especially when one takes into consideration the obsession so many “gays” seem to have with youth – with being, and staying, and pretending to be, young.

But we can't just say that those offending priests are “gay”, because we've already decided that “gay” is OK. Got it? So something else has to be ginned up in order to distance these people, and their behavior, from the approved “gay” mainstream. And note also that each of these terms only refers to sexual preference – or one might say attraction. There are no acts implied by the terms themselves, and yet, once again, the term “pedophilia” has been elevated from a clinical definition of a preference, or mental state, into an act (and inaccurately at that). But in that case, how would one describe the mere attraction in the absence of the act? This is apparently of little or no concern to the media, since they always prefer sensationalism to scientific or clinical objectivity.

Now, this is all by way of (hopefully) clarification. It does not excuse any acts, of any sort, perpetrated against young, vulnerable, powerless individuals of any age or level of sexual development. I'm only trying to show that the media are pursuing their own agenda by manipulating the meaning of words.

But back to the matter at hand. How did all these characters manage to worm their way into the Church, which is supposed to be a stronghold of morality? How did so many of them manage to make vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and then blatantly violate at least two of those three? Has the Church suddenly failed, after all of these centuries, to weed out candidates with serious character flaws – and if so, why? Or – another possibility – there have always been homosexuals within the body of the Church, but they have been “closeted”, if you will, and the vow of chastity has been sufficient to keep them from acting out. But in that case, why are they acting out now? I'm afraid I can't, at this point, come up with a comprehensive model to explain all this, but I feel that it's all of a piece with the general secularization of society and – yes, even though it's an overworked term – its moral decay. The Church is after all, populated with human beings, and even taking religious vows does not shield a person from the influences of the world – from its explicit or implied statements as to which behaviors are acceptable and which ones are not. And then you have the question of Church authority, and if you take the entire legacy of faith and morals which has come down through the ages, the Church as an institution has remained steadfast and unchanged – but the larger society has changed drastically, and secularism is now the baseline, with morality being relegated to a museum piece and “ethics” being so conditional and relativistic that it, too, might as well be a museum piece. All we have left, in effect, is the law – which is wildly arbitrary much of the time – and politics, custom, and “public opinion”, which is, in turn, controlled by the media, which are, in turn, controlled by, and which exist only to serve, the powers that be – which are, again, concerned only with wealth and power. So, scandals or not, the Church is on the defensive on all fronts – not that it hasn't been under siege for centuries, but the floodwaters are definitely rising. Perhaps one of the few saving graces is that the Church, in these times, has little in the way of real wealth and virtually nothing in the way of secular – i.e. political – power. So the corrupting influences of those factors has, at long last, receded – which should have been a golden opportunity for the Church to focus on what it does best, i.e. preach morality and salvation to the masses, and leave the “princes of this world” to their own devices.

But it is precisely these functions – those that the Church inherited from Christ – that Benedict is trying to focus on and promote. He travels the world not as a secular ruler but almost as a mendicant, trying to persuade people, and world leaders, to do the right thing – for others, and to their own betterment. But he has no power to coerce – and his power to persuade is limited by the willingness and ability of other people to be persuaded. And yet this is precisely the reason he is so hated by the secular powers and their propagandists – because he, and the Church, represent the only significant alternative, in terms of world view – metaphysics and epistemology, if you will – to earth-bound secularism, materialism, and humanism... which, in the long run, invariably eventuate in tyranny and totalitarianism. The world is going one way, and the Church remains steadfast, even in the face of serious flaws in some of its members. The Church is always, and inevitably, a sign of contradiction to the “values” of the world – and the better it performs this function the more it is hated, and the more it is persecuted... and the more energy its enemies have when it comes to detecting and amplifying the flaws and misdeeds of some of those within its ranks. And the script behind every news story is quite clear: Because the Church “ignored”, or allowed certain things to happen, therefore the truth is not in it, and we can ignore all of its 2000-plus years of teaching and go on about our business as if it had never existed – as if we were just picking up where the Roman Empire left off (just before Constantine, lets say). Weren't the pagans, after all, much happier than we are – before the Church placed this yoke of “guilt” on all of our shoulders? And hasn't "science" proven that man is no more than an animal, with a baseline of sexual urges and a group existence that is strictly economic? And isn't the objective, observable world really all we have to worry about – everything else being “superstition” and fairy tales? This is the basic narrative that lies behind every media presentation having to do with the Church and its current troubles. And of course, the current “crisis” will surely be the last straw – even though anyone with a sense of history will realize that the Church has been operating more or less in crisis mode since the beginning – although most of the crises originated externally, unlike the present case. Anyone can pile up scandal stories – the same way anyone can pile up stories of the Church's many good works over the centuries, not to mention its primary mission, which is the saving of souls. All it proves is that the Church is an institution established by God, but populated by all-too-human men. But one wonders how else it could have been – an institution of angels? Or a mere social club – which is, of course, what everyone wants it to be, and nothing more. The question for its critics should always be – well then, what should the Church do, or be? The answer, more often than not these days, will be – just go away, disappear, and stop bothering us.

A letter to the editor of my local paper put it very well: "... all of these priests were guilty of not practicing what they preached, but none of them ever preached what they practiced. Catholic standards are not represented by these actions since they were all authorized and contrary to the mission, charter, and historical teachings of the church."

So what am I saying? That because the enemies of the Church are evil, their accusations can be ignored? No – only that those accusations have to be seen in the light of the broader context of our time. So, for example, is any amount of apology, or reparation, or reform, on the part of the Church ever going to be enough to satisfy its critics? No. So this notion of, “if only” the Church could root out and purge itself of bad elements, all would be forgiven, and peace would again reign... this is a false hope. The Church will remain under siege, not because of what it is, but because of the way the world is.

So what, then, is to be done? Clearly, a housecleaning is in order – and not just on a one-time basis, but continually. The Church must become militant again – militant about its beliefs, about faith and doctrine, about morals, and about its expectations of its members – clergy, religious, and lay people. The alternatives – compromises with the world – have been tried too often, and have failed. When the door is opened, the world rushes in, and very little can get out. This is the problem with “ecumenism” -- which, basically, is the notion that we'll all get along fine if the Church does all the compromising. But wherever this is tried, the Church tends to disappear – which certainly makes its enemies happy, but what does it do to the mission? It renders it irrelevant and impotent. Try defending the idea of a living wage – a family-centered wage – based on Catholic social teaching; the capitalists, politicians, and economists just laugh. Supply and demand, that's the thing! Leave charity to the Red Cross. Try defending the idea of “just war” to the State Department. Try, in fact, defending ideas like that of fallen man, and salvation... to just about anybody. Try talking about the Last Things. The world simply is not interested. All the Church has to offer is the truth – but that is a concept that has become alien to our way of life. And, sadly, whenever the Church starts discussing these troubling matters, it will meet with armies of people all pointing fingers at “pedophile priests” -- as if those unfortunates were enough to neutralize 2000 years of faith and teaching. I could ask, for example, if the worst person in the Democratic Party represented the entire party and all of its works; would that be fair? Would the most evil Frenchman of all time be a fair representative of the entire country of France and its cultural legacy? And yet, this is precisely the logic they want everyone to subscribe to when it comes to the Church.

I think the problem in the past, with enforcing Church rules against sexual offenders, has not been one of laxity as often as the realization that, with the world as hostile as it is, and governments following suit, exposing offenders to public scrutiny can be an invitation to witch hunts, persecutions, and “home invasions” of the Church, which would seriously compromise its need to maintain a distance and a degree of removal from the secular world and its concerns – especially politics. And there are, in fact, mechanisms within the Church with which to effectively deal with offenses of this sort – but they must be applied in a thorough and unambiguous manner, and this requires will power. But to simply take the easy way out and throw a priest to the dogs every time suspicion arises – this is equally unjust. The Church has a mission to defend itself – and to defend its members, up to a point. It could be argued that turning a priest over to the secular arm should only be done as a last resort; I think this depends on the nature of the secular arm at that time and in that place. In any case, caution is in order.

Now, on the other side of the coin, when it comes to dealing with the victims, this is an area where considerable improvement has to be made – not only in retrospect but in terms of current policy and procedures. But again, it can't be a matter of running to the police or “hotlining” someone every time something appears to have gone wrong – because, again, a calm, objective approach is the best defense against unjust accusations, people with an agenda, and just plain hysterics and psychos. It should not be forgotten that mental illness tends, not surprisingly, to focus on those things that are most important in life – to people in general and to the individual. So the fact that crazy people tend to have crazy thoughts about religion – while it provides plenty of “talking points” for the secularists – should not surprise anyone. How many people get obsessive-compulsive about canned peas? Canned peas aren't all that important compared to things like religion, sex, family, health – you know, those things that “crazy” people worry about almost as much as “sane” people do. So what this means is that many people with serious mental problems tend to focus on religion, even if religion had nothing whatsoever to do with their problems. But religion is prominent; it looms large (or at least it used to). I doubt if a person who was (successfully) brought up as an atheist spends much time thinking about religious matters, even if he becomes mentally ill.

And while we're on the subject of victims, let's talk about another sociological/economic phenomenon, namely fake victimization, which has turned into a singularly cynical, venal, and lucrative industry that has severely compromised law enforcement (not to mention the media, who always eager to be compromised) and made big money for a corrupt few, who are clever manipulators but moral imbeciles. It begins with an accusation, or with suspicion... and have you ever heard of parents putting ideas into the heads of their children – ideas about having been molested, e.g. by day care workers? Yes, this was a common occurrence during the “child sexual abuse witch hunts” of the 1980s – but I don't think it has died out (any more than human nature has undergone a sea change since then). And have you ever heard of social workers, prosecutors, lawyers, and psychologists pouncing on accusations and suspicions of this sort for reasons of their own? And how about “false memories”, that are ruthlessly exploited by all the same people? This has been well documented. And doesn't this exploit the victim just as much as the alleged offense might have?

I'm not saying that the current crop of cases tormenting the Church is based on false victimization -- in fact, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that all of the accusations are justified. But this phenomenon is so pervasive that it should at leat be kept in mind as a possibility. And in cases where it's a factor, the Church's relationship (if I can use that term) with the victims will inevitably be corrupted by "outside" influences, and may for that reason be especially unsalvageable. But whose fault would that be? The Church's? The victim's? No – in many cases it would be the end result of a concerted campaign to bring down the Church, or some part thereof, at all costs.

In any case, even without malicious intentions on anyone's part, the Church simply cannot be stampeded by everyone who makes an accusation – any more than the secular courts can. And why is it, by the way, that priests accused of “pedophilia” are assumed guilty unless proven innocent – and even then, they are still assumed guilty (and that the justice system “failed”)? Can this be said of any other combination of demographic and crime in this country? The answer is no – only Catholic priests are subject to this Napoleonic prejudice. This is another factor that creates a cautious – one might even say paranoid – attitude within Church organizations, and rightly so.

But, happily, the Vatican is fighting back against some of the most obvious, agenda-laden slanders. And, in particular, it's saying that it doesn't always have to play the secularists' game in the secularists' home park -- always a losing proposition. Perhaps, at long last, it figures it has nothing to lose by acting in its own self-defense, since every form of apology and breast-beating has been tried and found wanting (by the media and other anti-Catholic organizations). This is not to say that apologies – and more – are not in order, but “outing” the agenda of their enemies is in order as well. People have to understand that the goal of the internationalists and their media facilitators when it comes to the Church is “end it, don't mend it”. Now, of course, what they overlook is the promise given to the Church by Christ Himself – namely:

“And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

But admittedly one has to have faith to believe that (1) this promise was ever made; (2) it is valid; and (3) it refers to the Catholic Church of today. (But if not, to whom, or what, does it refer? This is also never discussed.) The Catholic Church can, in fact, be described as “exceptionalist” -- even when it makes the relatively mild statement that it contains “the fullness of the faith”. And this, as we know – any form of exceptionalism, especially in the spiritual realm – is anathema to the powers of this world. “Nothing outside the state” -- so if there is any acceptable exceptionalism floating around it is the notion that the state is the only valid human institution, and that all others must be subservient, and place their resources (human and otherwise) at its service. So already the Church stands as a sign of contradiction – even before it starts talking about faith, doctrine, and morality. (And you'll notice that hapless priests who are forced to jump through ecumenical or humanist hoops get about as much appreciation from secular society for their efforts as a Judas goat does. They are given about as much respect as "stool pigeons" or "snitches" in the criminal underclass.)

Now, another sad consequence of all of this controversy is the scandal it causes, and its manifestation in people leaving the Church. In Germany, for instance, people are allegedly crowding into registry offices in order to declare themselves no longer Catholic, and one wonders how they can so readily give up 2000 years of faith. But that's not what they're giving up; at least that's not how they see it. I was thinking about this during the magnificent Easter service at my Latin Mass parish – this is what they're giving up! But no – what they are, by and large, giving up would be the same thing that most American Catholics are subjected to week after week – a bland, insipid, bloodless, watered-down liturgy, “hymns” that would shame the average kindergarten class, and homilies that sound like pep talks from a clinically-depressed high school baseball coach. They are not, in other words, giving up red blood and red meat (except literally, in the case of the Sacrament) – it's more like they have been on a starvation diet ever since Vatican II and have finally decided to seek elsewhere for nourishment (not to mention aesthetic stimulation and self-respect). The question is asked frequently among my Latin Mass acquaintances, if you knew someone who might be interested in joining, or coming back to, the Catholic Church, where would you take them? To one of the insipid, anemic, slouching “novus ordo” Masses? Absolutely not! That would only convince him that he was right – that the Church had nothing to offer. People who “return” to the Latin Mass – often after many decades – are frequently amazed at what they have missing all this time; their attitude is almost one of “Wow, this is a real church – a real religion – a real faith!” It is, in fact, real food for the spirit as well as the senses, after years in a spiritual and cultural concentration camp. And who set up this camp? Not Vatican II, but the people who promoted the “spirit of Vatican II” -- i.e. the liberals, “reformers”, relativists, conformers-to-the-world.

Plus, the question for anyone who is leaving the Church – for any reason – should be, what is the alternative? What have you found that is equally (or more) nourishing or satisfying? For as Simon Peter said:

"Lord, to whom shall we go?You have the words of everlasting life" (John 6:68)

Of course, the world offers a vast array of apparent alternatives – all the way from totally cynical materialism, Gordon Gekko style, to a galaxy of philosophies and New Age “systems” -- not to mention causes and obsessions of all sorts (like "global warming", veganism, and so on). There is certainly no lack of choice if one is a “seeker”, but I would offer that the Catholic Church has an excellent “track record” of long standing... its faith is coherent and worthy of belief (and historically based, i.e. not totally mystical or mythical)... and it has made a huge difference in history. Or – adopt the “via negativa” and contemplate what the world would have been like by this time without the Church. Of course, New Agers would say, well, we'd all be happy pagans dancing around Stonehenge at the summer solstice. Well, maybe. Or the whole world might look like North Korea. Who can say? I just can't imagine things having turned out any better if secularists, pagans, or even Christian heretics had been in charge all this time. But again, it all boils down to faith... and all the explanations by the faithful of why they have it aren't going to impress those who don't want it and aren't interested.

But to go back, for a moment, to the issue of “liberalization”. It might originally have been based on a genuine desire for “outreach”, and bringing lost sheep back into the fold. But before the ink was dry, as they say, the “spirit of Vatican II” took over and altar rails (and altars) were being torn down and trucked off to landfills. "Groves and high places" were being plowed under as in the days of Cromwell. Centuries of inspired music were replaced by bland ditties that any moron with a guitar could sing, and accompany, to perfection... and homilies, as I said, were reduced to uninspiring pep talks. And even once the agenda of the “reformers” was exposed – “reform” turning to “deform” and then to deconstruction – people were too apathetic or intimidated to protest. I can't recall one priest who was tarred and feathered for turning his parish into a social club and political action group. But the ones who loved the Latin Mass were driven underground, and many wound up joining breakaway groups.

But guess what! I would be willing to bet – and there is evidence for this – that the majority of these “pedophile priests” who are being tracked down at long last come from the ranks of these “reformers” and “renewal types” whose idea of “renewal” was to destroy physical churches, destroy the liturgy, and compromise the Church's moral authority. So what they wound up doing, as the saying goes, was making a desert and calling it peace – namely peace with the world, which they seem to value so highly. So they were put in positions of authority and proceeded to starve their flocks, the way an African dictator would starve his people and render them helpless. And make no mistake – when Catholics wake up to this fact and attempt to do something about it, they are – still, to this day – often shunned, slandered, sanctioned, and sidelined. So all we can do is wait patiently until this generation passes away – which it is doing. The younger generation of priests is nowhere near as wedded to the false notions of “reform” and “renewal” -- and, in fact, the more traditional an order, or diocese, or seminary is, the more likely it is to be producing new priests who will eventually take over from the tired, gray, failed relics of Vatican II (the “spirit” thereof, I mean).

And when you think about it, it makes perfect sense that there should be a nexus between liberals within the Church and the “pedophilia” problem. This was an entire generation, or cohort, that joined the Church for, in many cases, the wrong reasons (e.g., avoiding the draft); they were not psychologically or morally prepared to take on the solemn duties of the priesthood... and, sure enough, when temptation presented itself, which it always will, many of them fell. But at the same time -- and again, owing to the secularization of the culture and the devaluing of the priesthood and priestly vows -- there was a steep decline in vocations, i.e. interest in the religious life, which undoubtedly led to a decline in standards in many places. In other words, the bar was lowered, and some unworthy individuals managed to jump over.

And to what do we owe this underestimation – almost trivialization – of the concept of the priesthood? Again, to the baseline of moral laxity as well as to the Church's loss of moral authority – again, not because it truly loses it but because people stop listening. It was the compromises “demanded” by the “spirit of Vatican II” that constituted the real loss of moral authority – but those compromises were more in people's imagination and wishful thinking than in reality – i.e. they never appeared in doctrine or in pronouncements from the Magisterium or the Vatican or any pope... any more than the Latin Mass was ever “prohibited”. These are all myths promoted by the media over the years in order to aid and abet what they felt was, really, Job One – to get the Church out of the way of their agenda (and that of their secular masters).

And who, again, were these priests who, years later, wound up implicated in the “pedophilia” scandals? Many of them were those darlings of the media of that time, the “hip, groovy, liberal” priests who could relate to youth (I'll say!) -- who wouldn't be caught dead in a clerical collar – and whose vestments were something they picked up in a market in Ouagadougu when they were in the Peace Corps. At last, the Catholic Church had some priests who could relate to real people – who could feel their pain – unlike those stuffy old dried-up guys with the Irish accents. And, by the way, the Church at the same time acquired a bunch of “swingin' sisters” who doffed the habit in favor of jeans and sweatshirts. Some of them lasted about as long as it took to find another swingin' sister that they could go “ex” with and set up housekeeping in Northampton, Massachusetts. Others were seduced out of their orders by New Age gurus... and some stuck around and wound up taking over parishes after having wielded castration knives over hapless priests (but not, obviously, in time to keep them from committing sexual offenses).

But there's a point to be made here. Much of this madness has passed – the tsunami of “renewal” washed over the American Church and left much destruction in its wake... but it did, in fact, survive, and there is a remnant that is more militant than ever as to the value of the Latin Mass and of keeping faith with the Magisterium and the Holy Father – values that are perfectly compatible with those of Pope Benedict. So one might say that the “renewal” has had an ironic or unanticipated consequence – a real renewal! But like a tropical disease, the effects of the “renewal” are still with us – as are so many of the misfits that, in many cases, rode in on its coattails. So the operation is not unlike that of the “Nazi hunters” -- the Church has to track down offenders, even if the offenses were way in the past (and do Nazi hunters ever let anyone off the hook because they are “old and sick”? Hell no!), and bring certain people to justice in order to re-establish credibility and cool the bright lights of scandal. Not that, as I said before, the media will ever be satisfied, because they want nothing less than to see the Catholic Church wiped off the map (Christianity too, for that matter – but they seem willing to put up with the harmless, non-threatening kind – like Episcopalianism, for instance). So the Church will always be under attack. Wave a magic wand, and make all the “pedophiles” and their offenses disappear, and all their victims healed, and the attacks will go on nonetheless. This is simply the way it is, and anyone who is following these stories needs to keep this perspective in mind.

No comments: