Saturday, August 25, 2018

Francis' Moment of Truth - And Morality- Awaits Him This Weekend In Ireland

Sr. Liz Murphy  - offered a blunt perspective on the padre crimes in the RC Church and that they are "systemic" and "a virus".

Pope Francis' visit to Ireland this weekend is bound to be fraught with controversy and more than a little rebellion, not only from the "faithful" but also from Ireland's resident ex-Catholics. Both might be said to form a de facto coalition as opponents of the RC Church's presumed absolute moral authority, i.e.  now that the rats inside have been exposed. See e.g.
'Say Nope to the Pope': Irish group snaps up papal mass tickets with ...

 This will also call for a moment of truth and considered moral salience.  In the case of the latter, how important really is morality- especially sexual -  if its values are disrespected and ignored by the clergy?  As we learned in the main story in The Financial Times this morning. the Irish PM Leo Varadkar has "called on Francis to use his power to ensure justice for those who were seriously mistreated" in the wave of clerical sex abuse.  But the use of such power would mean the pontiff recognizes how the widespread sex abuse crimes have delimited his church's moral authority.  This is the truth he will need to appreciate before he can decide on the "power to ensure justice".

 Leaving aside that this will be the first visit by a pope to the Emerald Isle since John Paul II in 1979 — let's grasp the vastly more ominous  pall cast over this  trip. Namely, that it will remind millions of the church’s long history of protecting pedophile priests. In Ireland's case the most notorious padre predator - maybe the poster boy for all such vermin  - is the Rev. Eugene Greene, who served nine years in prison for raping and molesting 26 boys between 1965 and 1982  It is cases like this that enrage many Irish faithful - and even no longer faithful -  who insist the vile deeds exposed make it incumbent on Francis to give them not just words, but action.

That is true not only in Ireland, but also in the United States, where last week a grand jury in Pennsylvania released a sweeping report that the church had covered up the abuse of more than 1,000 minors by some 300 priests over 70 years. Francis himself acknowledged the global scale of the problem this week, when he issued a rare letter to Catholics worldwide condemning such “atrocities.”

In the Irish case, the atrocity was protecting a padre lowlife who committed his crimes with impunity, though the real figure may be far higher - perhaps in the hundreds. Who knows? Yet this year, when Pope Francis needed someone to head a neighboring diocese, he chose Bishop Philip Boyce, who had been heavily criticized for refusing to defrock Greene when the loathsome padre was under his management in the late 1990s

According to a watchdog group that monitors the Catholic Church in Ireland, 14 priests have been accused in recent years, four of whom were convicted.  This may well be but a tiny subset of the total priestly predators.

Francis himself acknowledged the global scale of the problem this week, when he issued a rare letter to Catholics worldwide condemning such “atrocities.”

But the pope offered no specific remedies, though he professed that all lay members ought to partake in efforts at change. What change? He didn't indicate but many outraged laity are now considering the draconian solution of withholding any and all money contributions, e.g. collected at Masses. As one put it: "We don't even know where this money goes?"

 Incredibly, Francis also laid much of the blame for the sex abuse crisis on "excessive deference to the church' hierarchy."   In other words, laying the blame on the "faithful" for being too respectful and gullible of padres' (and bishops')  moral authority. But I've always made it clear - especially since the sex abuse crisis first erupted- that this moral authority has always been tentative and dependent - never absolute.  In fact, we now know papal "infallibility" is itself a myth, a fable - passed on to the gullible to confer some special moral order on the papacy which it doesn't merit.  To fix ideas we can turn to Hans Kung who writes on p. 143 of his book Infallible?

"No one, neither Vatican 1 or Vatican II, nor the textbook theologians, has shown that the Church - its leadership or its theology - is able to put forward propositions which inherently cannot be erroneous."

In other words, NO pope can make error- free pronouncements.   What this means is that if  RC followers take Kung's words to heart - and they should-   then the Vatican has forfeited any moral credibility. More importantly,  to the vast constellation of outside observers-   such forfeiture applies  especially to its catalog of "sexual transgressions", e.g. artificial birth control,  masturbation, etc. In other words, the "pelvic crimes"-   in the words of one priest Ethics professor I knew at Loyola.

Without that moral credibility - and authority -  i.e.  to pass judgments on moral issues ranging from artificial contraception, to abortion, to masturbation, to homosexuality - the Catholic church emerges as an anachronism out of touch and out of its moral depth.  This is the new moral perspective which needs to be endorsed by Catholics themselves, as opposed to showing "deference" to its moral pronouncements. If Francis is demanding the laity step up and cease to be deferential then this is arguably the best way to show it. Give him 180 degrees opposite!  

Meanwhile, one Irish nun, Sister Liz Murphy - was outspoken three days ago on CBS Early Show when confronting another pie-eyed padre  (Cardinal Blase Cupich)   who tried to minimize the magnitude of change needed in this anachronistic church, by first insisting any significant changes "will lead to chaos".  Cupich further claimed that a "series of reforms adopted in 2002 have dramatically reduced abuse cases in the church".  To which I'd reply, 'Total balderdash!'   That's an egregious guess since we really don't know how many parishes are still hiding or shuttling off these predators.  Past is prologue,  after all, and there haven't been any systematic changes to negate or even abate this  continuing evil. 

Sister Murphy, who leads one of the largest religious organizations in Ireland, wasn't having any of it and replied:

"This is a really dark time a darkness within the darkness. I think there's much more needed than just naming individuals".


"This is a virus and this is not going to be healed over these coming days. TO expect the pope to come up with the strategic plan for the Catholic Church over the weekend is quite daft."

Many Irish say they are waiting not only for recognition of their suffering, but also for Francis to announce concrete measures to combat and punish such abuses.  Well, they will have a long, long wait! It is obvious the abuses won't end until Catholics themselves attain the mental maturity to depend on their own moral consciences as opposed to relying on degraded, deformed and error -prone intermediaries (and fossils)  in robes.  That will be their moment of moral truth!

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Now Am Found! said...

i am a survivor of a catholic orphanage here in the US and i can assure you that nuns have much to answer for. violence toward children is a crime as well as rape. the only good thing is that most of the nuns are old and dying and it's hard to find replacements.

Copernicus said...

Thanks! I can appreciate that as I was also assaulted by a nun in the 5th grade. THat was a large part of what drove me to become an atheist.