Mar 28, 2010

Pope Starts Off Holy Week on Wrong Foot

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Pope Benedict did not directly address the escalating abuse scandal in his Palm Sunday homily. But his oblique reference could not have been more offensive or inappropriate.

Jesus Christ, Benedict said in his homily, guides the faithful "toward the courage that doesn't let us be intimidated by the chatting of dominant opinions, towards patience that supports others."

I have little doubt his Holiness is feeling besieged from all sides but make no mistake. It's the clergy that's under the gun; not the laity. So it can only be the clergy he exhorts not to be "intimidated;" not the people. Once again, it's very clear where his sympathies lie. With church officials, including pedophile priests who have been sheltered and protected for decades. Not with the children, nor with the adult survivors of child abuse. Not with Catholic parishioners whose faith is being rattled daily by new revelations.

I cannot imagine a worse tone to set at the start of Holy Week. He would have done better to ignore the scandal than to use his pulpit to bash the church's critics, many of whom are good Catholics. Such divisiveness has no place in a sermon, let alone on one of the most important days of the church calendar.

 Yesterday I read about Bernie McDaid who met with Pope Benedict two years ago to discuss the sexual abuse that had so affected his life.

McDaid left afterward believing Benedict was beginning to understand the scope of his church's corruption. He doesn't believe that today.

"Was it a PR move? Looking back at that now, I have to say it was," McDaid said of the meeting. "Everything they do is not about the children. It's about the church. It's always the church first."

If McDaid had any doubt about where Pope Benedict's loyalties lie and what his intentions are towards those who have raised issues with the church's handling of abusive priests, this open display of contempt towards Vatican critics make it abundantly clear they're going to get nowhere. He's positioned those with unfavorable "opinions" as an enemy he will continue to ignore.


  1. Andrew Sullivan has been awesome at covering all the commentary from pundits and nonhelpfullness from the church.

    Church patriarchy loses some power if it moves into the 21st or 20th or 19th century, so much like the Tea Partiers it's going to hold on to a present that's already passed them by.

  2. Agreed. I've read some of Sullivan's posts on this and I should read more. Personally I think the patriarchy is going to lose. I've been saying for years that the Catholic Church cannot continue in its present form. It's a dinosaur. It will either change or collapse. But unlike Sullivan, I'm not Catholic. I was raised Episcopalian, so my perspective may be skewed towards an unrealistic idea of potential for tolerance.

  3. The priesthood is not sustainable as it is. There are several churches now that are sharing the same pastor in certain parts of the country. It's unfortunate the way the church's refusal to transform itself has literally created the conditions that allows the current state of corruption.

    If it's not opened up to women (and married people as well) then there is no future for it. I predict that in less than ten years there will be too few in leadership positions so desperate to maintain their power that even more corruption will occur, both sexual and financial. In the meantime, the laity will just keep leaving and their all-important donations will dry up.

    The future of the church will be independent worship communities, I would imagine. In any case, I won't be part of it as I am one of the many who have already left the faith.

    Thanks for your thoughtful posts, LaVaughn.


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