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25 January 2017 Changing the Conversation (170509) Celebrating More Than 50 Years (170509) Conscience-Based Moral Judgments (170509) Dignitaries Humanae (170509) False Views on Jesus' Views on Divorce (170509) Mission and Human Rights (170509) Jesus and the Ordination of Women (170516) 29 May 2017 How much of Church Doctrine do we really believe? (170602) Trump Pulls Out of Paris Agreement (170602) 05 June 2017 Thoughts on Religious Vocations: An Open Letter to Pope Francis (170605) I can't get the institutional church out of my system (170618) 25 June 2017 Just War? Enough Already (170703) What would Teilhard say? Evolve or be annihilated (170710) Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (170719) Religion's Wax Nose (170726) American Civil Religion (170731) A Heresy of the Times (170807) Cardinal Calls for Global Church (170818) The Price of Being a Prophet (170821) The Implosion of the Roman Catholic Church (170902) Reflection on Racism in America (170913) Who am I? Where am I going? (170918) One Priest's Hopes for the Mass Translation (170925) The Edge of the Inside (171002) Selective Christianity (171016) Theology at the Cutting Edge: Healing the Political and Social Divide in America (171016) Resisting Islamophobia Is The Catholic Thing To Do. (171023) It Started With a Letter to the Archbishop (171030) Why Do We Still Tolerate Mass Stipends? (171106) Their Cross to Bear: Catholic Women Told to Forgive (171113) Papal loyalists become dissidents (171120) Echoes of Theocracy (171127) Will Pope Francis Remove the 'Warning'? (171204) Gumbleton on Nuclear Deterrence (171211) The Scandal of the 2011 Missal (171218)
ARCC News 2018
Prophets of a Future Not Our Own (20180101) 2018: Time to Become Ultra-Human? (20180118) Time for a Bonfire of Their Vanities? (20180122) Until All Are Welcome My House, My Rules: 3 Women "Rejected" (20180208) Policing the Communion Line (20180205) A Time to Judge (20180212) Mary McAleese Being Banned is Embarrassing (20180219) Correct, Don't Complicate Excommunication (20180226) Catholic Tradition, Labour, and Organizing Workers (20180305) Misogyny in the Vatican (20180312) The Unofficial Saint of the Internet (20180318) Francis Invites Change, But We Are the Change (20180325) Rediscovering the Role of Mary Magdalene as Apostle of the Apostles (20180401) Synodality and its Perils (20180409) Get rid of the clergy - But keep Holy Orders (20180415) Renewing the Program of Priestly Formation (20180429) Male and Female, in the image and likeness of God (20180506) Wedding Bans: Why Do Parishes Turn Young Couples Away? (20180513) Christian Humanism, the Path to the Divine (20180520) Mary - Prophet and Priest (20180527) A Wake-Up Call to Liberal Theologians (20160603) Canonization is right for Oscar Romero (20180610) Could the Church take a risk? (20180618) AJC expresses "Profound Concern" over beatification (20180624) The Bible's #MeToo Problem (20180701) 'Humanae Vitae' and the census fidelium (20180715) The Catholic Church wasn't always so against contraception (20180722) 50 years later, scientist's findings on birth control... (20180729) #MeToo, Your Excellency The Catholic Church needs a way to deal with bad bishops (20180812) The Catholic Church is tempted by power and obsessed with sex (20180819) Real change against abuse... (20180826) Pope Francis is facing a crisis of justice (20180829) Catholics Are Facing a Very Real Emergency (20180902) Truth and its violent consequences (20180909) The Third Millennial Catholic Reformation (20180917) Reality in an Historical-Critical Perspective (20180923) Both Prudential & Indisputable (20180930) Catholic Crossroads and Catholic Conflict (20181007) Schism or Evolution? (20181015) Theology: Stones or Bread? (20181028) White Christian America (20181102) Stone Throwing. Or Not. (20181104) Young People, Hope for the Church(es) (20181112) Who Represents the Laity? (20181118) Open Letter to the US Catholic Bishops: It's Over (20181125) From Collegiality to Synodality (20181203) The Birth of the Messiah (20181217) A Non-traditional Blessing for 2019 (20181231)
ARCC News 2019 Changing Power Relationships


The Catholic Church is tempted by power and obsessed with sex (20180819)

The Catholic Church is tempted by power and obsessed with sex


Contemporary Catholic Belief and Action


The Church is tempted by power and obsessed with sex
David Von Drehle
The crisis of the Catholic Church is not a matter for Catholics only.
Love it or hate it - or anywhere in between - this is one of the most important, influential institutions in world history, with boots on the ground in every corner of the world. Its good works are monumental. No agency, I suspect, has built more schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, orphanages and clinics. No patron has inspired and endowed more masterpieces of music, art, architecture and literature.
Its scandals and sins are monumental as well; no adequate accounting of the past millennium could be written without the Reformation, the Inquisition or the trial of Galileo. That's why the voluminous report by the Pennsylvania grand jury on coverups of alleged sexual assaults by priests is so important.
Nothing in the report, not even the child pornography or the sadism, is new. Attentive Catholics and outside observers have been reading about clergy abuse and scofflaw bishops since the 1980s, when investigative reporter Jason Berry exposed the scandal of a serial molester in the diocese of Lafayette, La. Paul Hendrickson, then of The Post, detailed his own experience of sexual humiliation as a teenager while training to be a priest in his 1983 memoir "Seminary." Journalist Carl Cannon wrote presciently in 1987: "The church's reluctance to address the problem is a time bomb waiting to detonate within American Catholicism."
What the grand jury added was a sweeping documentation of the ubiquity of the abuse culture. The report could have made it clearer that in all six of the dioceses investigated, a majority of priests have carried out their ministries without offense. What is crystal clear, however, is that hiding credible accusations of sexual assault - even at the risk of enabling future rapes of other children - was routine business, year after year and decade after decade, for bishops in every corner of the state.
We already had a sense of this corrupted hierarchy. Some of the most prominent church leaders of the past two generations have been exposed for their complicity in protecting offenders: Cardinal Bernard Law in BostonCardinal Roger Mahoney in Los Angeles,  Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua of Philadelphia and his predecessor, Cardinal John Krol, and so on. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, former head of the archdiocese of Washington, recently resigned from the College of Cardinals after multiple accusations of abuse were lodged against him.
These were among the most powerful men in the church; what was known and done by them was of course known, and thus condoned, by their colleagues and superiors in Rome. As the scandal has spread around the world - the victims finding their voices in many languages and dozens of countries, from Australia to Chile, Ireland to Tanzania - a conclusion has become inescapable: This great church, so charitable in so many ways, has been morally blind.
I don't mean the hundreds of millions of lay Catholics around the world. Their awareness of this problem has grown slowly but steadily from hushed whispers a half-century ago to a mighty roar of outrage in response to the Pennsylvania grand jury. Things have reached the point where proposals to boycott the collection plate are being aired even in the conservative National Catholic Register. "As a Church hierarchy, we have worn on folks' last nerve," writes Monsignor Charles Pope of Washington.
It is church leadership, from the popes all the way down, that hasn't been able to tell right from wrong. Yet how can this be, in an institution at least nominally dedicated to precisely that task? I think there are two interrelated reasons.
The first is an age-old problem. Since its alliance with the Roman Emperor Constantine in the 4th century, the Catholic hierarchy has been tempted by power. It has cloaked itself in mystery to rule by edict rather than by example. At root, this scandal springs from idolatry: Bishops employ secrecy and deceit to promote the heresy that the priesthood is superior to the people in the pews. The words of John A. Hardon, a Jesuit priest, are as true now as when he wrote them 20 years ago: "Most of the chaos in the Catholic Church today is due to the pride of priests."
The second is the church's unfortunate negative obsession with sex - a problem it shares with many conservative Protestant congregations. To a broken world they offer a gospel of no-nos. The church exalts, from the Virgin Mary to the parish priest, the sexless life, as though the very engine of God's creation were a sign of spiritual failure and source of shame.
The Galilean who preached "love your neighbor," "suffer the children," "judge not" and "the Kingdom of God is within you" would weep to read the grand jury's report. The question for church leaders: Will their response continue to serve their own interests, or, at long last, serve His?
David Von Drehle is a columnist for The Washington Post, where he writes about national affairs and politics from a home base in the Midwest. He joined The Post in 2017 after a decade at Time magazine, where he wrote more than 60 cover stories
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