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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Is the Pope Catholic?

That's a jocular response to a question that has an obvious answer.

But now it's a not so funny response in the light of the priest child abuse revelations that seem to have reached a crescendo. (Maybe?)  So much is being written about it that I cannot resist my urge to express, and thus find, my own views.

Pope Francis, in his recent letter denouncing and apologizing for the abuse of youth by contemporary priests, tries to get to a root cause by highlighting the "clericalism" of the Church. Clericalism is that separate class of special people closer to the Holy One (which the early Jesus people rejected). But it is more.  It is hierarchy in which some persons have authority and control over others which harks back to the patron system of the Roman empire (that the Jesus people fought). And then of course it is the sexism and paternalism of male domination (also rejected by the Jesus people).

The problem is not just the culture of the church as expressed in doctrines and rites. It is how the church is organized as an institution. Moreover, the abuse of clerics, like the abuse of politicians, lawyers, and bureaucrats goes beyond sexual predation. It is the abuse of power. Like rape.

If the Church is to truly root out this abuse, it will get rid of the clerical class, flatten the hierarchy, and renounce paternalism and sexism. Communities will choose their conveners based on agreed upon criteria. And these conveners will choose their overseers or administrators--or at least recommend them to the world church leader (e.g. Pope, President) selected by the overseers.

Leaders will be male and female demonstrating their ability to support their families as good dads and moms and to be leaders with civic virtue in their neighborhoods, cities, and community associations. As for any job, there may be some educational requirements as agreed to by the people in congregation.  No female or married priests. Just no priests!

Time for a Vatican III, Pope Francis?