Mike's Thoughts About The Papacy

The post about Cardinal Law got me riled up. Here're some thoughts

The corruption of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church has been complete since the at least the Middle Ages. There is nothing in the structure of the faith that makes monarchy the only legitimate form of its government. Now, when legitimacy comes from accountability, it is asked to be accountable for the same reason that it was asked to become monarchical centuries ago. This latest display of arrogance, and total disregard for the laity, is a prime example of the way they've been operating for a long, long time. How history will judge John Paul remains to be seen, but his serious failure to govern the Church effectively—the sex scandal which proceceeded with the Vatican's knowledge, in the American branch of the Church is a particularly heinous example—will certainly mar his legacy.
Surely, the great abuses of the past--the nepotism, murders, and wars of conquest--no longer prevail; yet, the sin of the modern papacy is every bit as real, though less obvious than the old sins.

Any reasonable observer will perceive a Church which seems steadfastly unwilling to face the truth about itself, its past, and its relations with others. The refusal of the authorities of the Church to be honest about its teachings has needlessly exacerbated original mistakes. Even when the Vatican has tried to tell the truth--e.g., about Catholics and the Holocaust--it has ended up resorting to historical distortions and evasions. The same is true when the papacy has attempted to deal with its record of discrimination against women, or with its unbelievable assertion that "natural law" dictates its sexual code.

Though the blithe disregard of some Catholics for papal directives has occasionally been attributed to mere hedonism or willfulness, it actually reflects a failure, after long trying on their part, to find a credible level of honesty in the official positions adopted by modern popes. On many issues outside the realm of revealed doctrine, the papacy has made itself unbelievable even to the most well-disposed laity.

The resulting distrust is in fact a neglected reason for the shortage of priests. Entirely aside from the public uproar over celibacy, potential clergy have proven unwilling to put themselves in a position that supports dishonest teachings.


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A look at history will reveal the papacy's stubborn resistance to the truth, beginning with the challenges posed in the nineteenth century by science, democracy, scriptural scholarship, and rigorous history. The legacy of that resistance, despite the brief flare of John XXIII's papacy and some good initiatives in the 1960s by the Second Vatican Council (later baffled), is still strong in the Vatican.

MF

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The resulting distrust is in fact a neglected reason for the shortage of priests. Entirely aside from the public uproar over celibacy, potential clergy have proven unwilling to put themselves in a position that supports dishonest teachings.

A look at history will reveal the papacy's stubborn resistance to the truth, beginning with the challenges posed in the nineteenth century by science, democracy, scriptural scholarship, and rigorous history. The legacy of that resistance, despite the brief flare of John XXIII's papacy and some good initiatives in the 1960s by the Second Vatican Council (later baffled), is still strong in the Vatican.

MF

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