I grew up in the Catholic Church and my memories of those days are some of the happiest of my life. This may be why I am so angry now at what I find out the church really is – a cabal of old men determined at all costs to protect the turf they rule as despots.
To be honest, by the time I was in high school I was already questioning a lot of things I’d been taught as Catholic orthodoxy. Do you know what kind of knots you have to tie yourself into in order to justify the existence of a place called Limbo where the unbaptized souls of babies were sent because they couldn’t go to heaven. According to this line of caca, those poor children would never be allowed to bask in the glory and joy of god because they died before they were baptized. Yet this god was still presented to me as a kind and loving spirit. So you can see where I started questioning a lot of things as my brain developed the ability for critical thinking.
But that aside, the nuns who taught me in grade school were pretty wonderful and the priests I knew who lived next door in our rectory were all this side of being god’s personal emissaries to me.
Did things happen in our parish that I didn’t know about with altar boys and priests? Well, I guess I’ll never know now. But clearly there was a pattern of terrible abuse and cover up happening for probably hundreds of years in the church that we are only now becoming aware of.
And that’s why I’m so mad. How could the same religion that gave me Sister Beatrice and Sister Angelina and Father John and Father Vincent also have given the world priests, bishops, cardinals and nuns who were abusive beyond belief and then protected by those charged with protecting us? I find it hard to believe this never happened in my city while I was growing up. It seems as though this scandal has sunk its tentacles into every nook and cranny of the Catholic Church.
While the current pope may be a nice guy with a feel for the common people, what he isn’t is someone who will break the traditions of secrecy and cover up that have infected his domain. He and his cardinals talk a good line but if you actually check out what they’ve said, you realize they are nothing more than empty words. In essence, this organization that has proven it cannot be trusted to police itself is now saying. “Trust us. We’ll clean up this mess. Just don’t ask how. Or look too closely at what we’re doing.”
What they’re doing is saying they will investigate and dedicate themselves to seeing this never happens again. I am not impressed. That’s not unlike Hitler saying if given another chance, he’d just be more careful about the public impression he’d create killing Jews. Putting the wolf in charge of the hen house has never worked out well for the hens.
The Catholic Church is a medieval power structure built on secrecy, loyalty without question and absolute power to the old men who run it. It was created to be a political entity at a time when Europe was forming into the countries we now know. The popes fought as warriors to protect their turf and their power. They used excommunication to keep kings and queens in line knowing that the peasants would be terrified to die under that ban. They were secular leaders who amassed billions in wealth and, despite that pesky vow of celibacy, often made their sons cardinals before they were teens. They viewed the church as their kingdom, just like Henry VIII viewed England as his.
Nothing in the structure has changed in the thousand years that have passed since then. Men rule. Women are excluded. Despite a few cosmetic changes – Limbo has officially be declared nothing more than a silly dance move – gays are still considered condemned, birth control is forbidden and questioning the power of a bishop or cardinal is enough to get you banned from heaven forever.
While I understand that doctrine should not be changed like clothes to meet the latest fads, I do have to question how gay people are condemned when Jesus never said a word about them. The only place that’s found is the Old Testament and if you are going by Old Testament standards, then you are Jewish, not Christian.
Yeah, I’m angry. The church was a bulwark of my parents’ lives and the lives of my whole family. I find myself glad they died before the worse of the scandals hit because I think it would have broken their hearts – well, except for my Aunt Toni who had little time for the church when she was alive and would probably have been heartbroken but not all that surprised by what was transpiring behind closed doors.
The Catholic Church as it is currently operating is nothing more than a very rich cult in which men in medieval garb come together for elaborate ceremonies at which they proclaim what is allowed or not allowed for everyone on pain of hell after death. It’s a fraud.
Jesus would not recognize most of today’s Christian churches as having any connection to what he preached. And the Catholic Church, with its riches, its secrecy, its male only hierarchy would be especially distasteful to him. (A quick historical note – women were integral to Christ’s ministry. The woman who, thanks to the early Church Fathers, was turned into a prostitute named Mary Magdalene was actually a wealthy woman from the town of Magdalene who funded a good part of Christ’s ministry. The early Church Fathers wanted no females in their midst so they erased them from the history of Christ – leaving smart young girls to wonder why women were the only ones who were at the cross when Christ died and at the grave when he arose. Way to go, guys. Stay hidden. The women will take care of things until you find your balls again.)
I like what Christ said about how to treat others and this earth. The Catholic Church has turned that beautiful and simple message into something so horrible and wrong that it boggles the mind. Yep, all men, all the time. What could go wrong?