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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Catholicism in Crisis: Thoughts from an outsider

The Roman Catholic Church as we know it will no longer exist... and sooner than later.

Bookmark this post, because it is something I would wager serious money on.

Four people I have long known, good Catholics each, have left the Church in the past two months.  One walked out and left after the minister delivered a homily that literally begged parishioners to ignore the massive scandal involving homosexual abuse on the part of Church clergy.  And it's only going to get worse.

Consider this: Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano - one of the most respected Catholic officials in the world - is now for all intents and purposes a fugitive in hiding from his own Church.  Ever since blowing the lid off of the abuses and now stating that Pope Francis was actively involved in covering up the behavior when he was still Cardinal Bergoglio in Argentina, Vigano has been a hunted man.  Sought after by those in allegiance to Pope Francis.

I defy anyone to tell me that there is something right with that picture.

Meanwhile Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington (shown in photo with Pope Francis) has tendered his resignation and many are speculating he's going to flee prosecution in the United States by taking refuge in the Vatican and fighting extradition.

The Pennsylvania grand jury report on molestation by priests going back decades is... well, damning. Decide for yourself if that's a double or even triple entendre.

And still Pope Francis is clamming up.  He has, in the parlance of The Godfather, "gone to the mattresses".  Along with most of the rest of the Church higher-ups.

The demands by Catholic laity and clergy alike for Francis to step aside is growing almost geometrically.

None of this bodes well for a faith that is the last enduring institution from the time of the original Roman Empire.  Indeed, what we are witnessing before us, unfolding in real time, is the worst crisis to hit the Catholic Church since that morning Martin Luther woke up feeling pokey and took a hammer to the Wittenberg church door.

As a historian, I find this fascinating.  As one who is not Catholic, I find this tragic on too many levels than can be readily counted.

So, it's like this: Pope Francis must resign.  There must be an unprecedented audit of as many of the abuses charges as possible.  The Church must vigorously turn over all evidence of abusive clergy to the proper authorities for legal prosecution.  This has to be done worldwide.  Not even Francis himself should be allowed to be exempt.  There must be drastic reform of the priesthood including... yes... ending the prohibition against marriage.

Roman Catholicism can either take unprecedented aggressive steps toward addressing its problems and in doing so continue to endure.  Or it can remain on the course that its present leadership has determined it will maintain.  In doing so it will drive itself into self-destruction and Catholicism will become no greater a presence in this world than the Shakers and the Huguenots are.  At present there are two remaining Shakers.  I doubt that Catholicism will shrink that small... but neither will there be converts rushing to the baptismal font.

Just some thoughts from one who is not a Catholic, yet enjoys deep friendship with many Catholics.  And not a few of them have shared very similar concerns and asked that they might be conveyed.