The Pope’s Performance Is Deplorable

Pope Francis has once again proven he is not going to be a proponent of change in the Catholic Church. Consider the following quote from the New York Times: “The Vatican on Monday flatly rejected what it cast as the notion that individuals can choose their gender . . .”

The Church has officially dashed the L.G.B.T. community by declaring, “acceptance of flexible ideas of gender pose[s] a threat to traditional families and ignore[s] the natural differences between men and women.”

Francis is digging in his heels every time he makes a new announcement about non-traditional life styles and age-old unproductive dogma. His promise to be more “tolerant” has not been kept. His supposed crusade to lead the Church out of the dark ages has not commenced. His commitment to clean up the horrible and disgraceful actions of his priesthood has fallen flat. The only thing the leader of the Catholic Church has proven is that he is cut out of the same cloth as his predecessors, and his only concern is the reputation of the Catholic Church.

Perhaps the pontiff is getting bad advice from his advisers and colleagues about what his flock expects of him, or maybe he really is a conservative who has no intention of cleaning up the missteps and sins of his fellow priests. In order to get the pope back into the good graces of his followers he needs to aggressively change many perspectives of the Church. The following are a few obvious examples.

The genie is out of the bottle relating to sexual abuse. Thousands of young boys have been raped and abused over the past century. Many lives have been destroyed. Who knows how widespread this behavior has been since the Church was founded over 2,000 years ago? Additionally, it has become public that even female worshippers and nuns have been the subjects of attacks along with young priests by older priests.

Every one of these accusations needs to be investigated and guilty priests must be defrocked immediately. When possible these criminals should be turned over to civil authorities for appropriate punishment.

The Vatican should form investigative groups around the world that can work on this project full time. Emphasis must be placed on exposing the abusers who are still living, rather than chasing ghosts. This process would surely be a great embarrassment to the Church and take many years to conclude. It is only then that the individuals that were abused will be able to find some closure in their lives.

Related to these crimes are those affiliated to Church leaders who protected sexual criminals. They are equally culpable with the abusers themselves and should be sanctioned similarly. This group will likely include pastors of small parishes as well as bishops, cardinals and even popes. Enablers are guilty of sexual abuse by allowing known offenders to run rampant among innocent churchgoers.

The Church needs to change its holier than thou arrogance and update its tenets. The list of changes that needs to be made is extensive.

Birth control is a perfect issue that demonstrates how antiquated the Church is, and how it does not address the needs of a changing world. To begin birth control is not a sin. Practitioners of it will not be sentenced to eternal damnation. It is a necessary, healthy and effective way to stop bringing unwanted children into the world. Moreover, it’s a critical method in lesser-developed countries to combat excessive population growth, starvation, poverty and disease. Many Catholics in impoverished areas do not practice birth control because their priests have taught them that it is a sin.

Abortion is an essential element of a woman’s basic right to care for her body. Policies (legally and spiritually) that allow aborting fetuses, before they are viable, are a perfect way to end the unproductive abortion controversy. The Church should lead this effort, especially since half its members are women. It’s barbaric to say it is a mortal sin to control the size of one’s family.

The number of gays and lesbians coming out seems to be increasing at frenzied pace. The right to choose one’s sexual preference is not in the domain of Church. There is no conceivable damage to society when two loving people of the same sex want to share a life together. The Church’s dogma on this issue is not empathetic and creates turmoil. The pope’s dismissive attitude towards this group of people is shameful.

It is becoming more obvious every day that many individuals are struggling with their sexuality. They feel they don’t fit into society because neither of the current sexual categories (man or woman) accurately represents their perspectives. The pope’s callous response to people sorting out their sexuality is truly unfortunate and ignorant.

And finally the Church has taken advantage of its status over the centuries to accumulate hundreds of billions of dollars. It has the gall to continue to solicit poor parishioners for more contributions. Just like well-endowed universities and colleges, the Church should begin a program to liquefy holdings and return the proceeds to its needy members around the world.

The Catholic Church is at a crossroads. It will either become a relic of the past or regain its influence. This will be dependent upon how priests interface with parishioners. It will also depend upon resetting antiquated ideas and reconsidering the definition of sin.

 

Sexual Abuse And The Catholic Church

Issues that are rapidly destroying the Catholic Church are becoming more pervasive every day. The pope is attempting to deal with a massive and global public relations disaster. His reticence about enforcing a no tolerance sexual abuse policy is creating more doubt and suspicion for many Catholics. Additionally there seems to be little consensus about what to do among senior leadership of the Church.

The charges against the priesthood have increased materially in recent months. We now know that priests have sexually abused members of virtually every group that depends upon spiritual counseling. Along with other priests, young women and young men, it has been reported that sex between priests and nuns is not uncommon. Some nuns have given birth to children sired by priests.

For many years the hierarchy of the Church has protected evildoers among them, enabling these sinners to continue to prey upon vulnerable individuals inside and outside the Church. And we now know priests, pastors, bishops, cardinals and popes have turned a blind to horrendous behavior that made it possible for these acts to continue.

The perpetrators are criminals and have committed heinous crimes against humanity. They should have been prosecuted by legal authorities and defrocked by the Church. The facilitators of these dreadful actions are equally culpable and should be similarly prosecuted as co-conspirators.

The issue that is most disturbing relates to misuse of power. Priests are using their positions and status in the Church to target victims. So many of these injured parties have trusted their parish priests over the years while they were raping their children as emissaries of God.

Why have popes, cardinals, bishops and other leaders of the Church enabled criminals to escape prosecution and expulsion from the priesthood? It’s rather simple. The Church has chosen to protect its reputation at the expense of the safety of its flock.

Pope Francis toured the US with great fanfare and promise. In fact he assured the world he would deal with thousands of sexual abuse accusations and train his underlings to manage the Church’s problems more effectively.

These promises have not been kept because Francis is no different than the men who preceded him. He’s a conservative masquerading as a progressive pope. A college of cardinals that likely includes enablers elected him. Francis should conduct a survey and ask each of his underlings, under oath, if they have and/or are abusing anyone, and if they ever covered up acts of depravity by their peers or subordinates.

The Church uses the sacrament of penance to justify its inane policies. Anyone can be forgiven regardless of the severity of his or her sins in a confessional. But, the Church has suppressed the most important part of absolution, which is the vow to never commit the same offense again.

What should the Church do to end the onslaught it’s experiencing? It’s inevitable that Pope Francis will be called upon to resign by some. He has made little progress on the issues presented herein. And secondly the Church needs a fall guy.

Francis is too deeply imbedded in the sins of the past. He, along with many of his peers, has failed to protect the youngest and most vulnerable members of his flock. Too many people have suffered and continue to feel the pain of actions going back many years. It’s time for new blood to take over. Real change will be possible only with new leadership.

Credibility can only be regained if all the evildoers, facilitators and incompetents are rooted out of the priesthood. Every offender needs to be identified, defrocked and prosecuted, if possible. Only then would Catholics around the world begin to again seek out the sage counsel of their priests.

Another major issue that should be on the table is the sensibility of celibacy. Why would any person seek the advise of a priest relating to marriage or child rearing if a priest has no experience in these matters? Priests should be able to marry and have children thereby ending an absurd rule that has in effect impacted so many over the centuries.

Any man will tell you that the touch, affection and physical love of a partner are critical to his happiness. Without them chances of psychological problems will increase. Related is the question why women cannot be ordained as priests.

The Church is at a crossroads. It needs young and reformed leadership to regain its status. If the Church continues to deny its missteps it will fade away over time.