The Elephant

April 15th, 2010 Posted in writing

The elephant in the living room of today’s Catholic church is, of course, the abuse scandal. We know it’s there; but we’re also like the blind men examining the elephant in the famous story, each one coming up with a different idea of what the beast looked like depending on which part of the elephant they were touching.

To some people, the scandal is primarily a problem about priests who molest children. To others, it is about derelict bishops who kept moving the perpetrators to different parishes. To still others, the problem is that the Vatican seems to have made it very difficult for bishops to defrock offending priests. To others, the problem is a kind structural deformity in that church that seems to keep it stuck in unhelpful clerical, hierarchical, sexist, medieval ways of thinking and acting.

If the problem were only one of these, it might be easier to fix. But this is a complicated elephant and there is plenty of disagreement as to the underlying issue.

In the meantime, what effect does all this have on me? I can only say it has made me realize that my faith and hope can never hinge on the good behavior of church people or the adequacy of church structures, but only on Christ and the Holy Spirit. And, at the same time, I have realized more that each person has the right to speak his or her mind on this and all the other issues that affect our church.

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