Lots of news about sex and money lately. First an international financier is alleged to have raped a hotel maid. Then the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops blames societal changes for sixty years of creeps run rampant. Same story, different emphasis.
It looks like the church is developing parallel universes.
To the left are writers and a few bishops who think some topics shouldn't be swept under the Vatican carpet; their stories gone viral. To the right are card-carrying genuine real live Catholics whose often angry blogs support their idea of the One True Faith.
Most of us are in the middle. Daily battered by a tsunami of information, we are increasingly selective of what messages we receive. So we choose.
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
00120 Vatican City State, Europe
Forgive my presumption in addressing you directly, but the matter I bring is both urgent and pressing. Women are no longer walking away from the church. They are running away. They are running toward churches that make it clear women are made in the image and likeness of God.
Remember when folks used to get arrested demonstrating against abortion? Now they get arrested demonstrating for it. The latest teledrama: the mayor of Washington, D.C., wants to spend his federal budget dollars on abortion. Hello? It’s the District of Columbia, a federal territory and the permanent national capital provided for in the Constitution.
Not long before the 1984 elections in the U.S., someone handed the new archbishop of New York an old letter signed by the Catholic woman vice-presidential candidate that passed along opinions from the group Catholics for a Free Choice to members of Congress.
And, the fight was on.
For the first time in its long history, Caritas, the Catholic Church’s international relief agency, has a woman Secretary-General. Or, make that “had.”
Dr. Lesley-Anne Knight, who once headed international programs for the British relief agency CAFOD and worked at both the UN High Commission for Refugees and Oxfam, is getting the scarlet boot from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretary of State.
Ireland, still the land of a thousand welcomes, is now also the land of a thousand heartbreaks. Church scandals gathered steam for 25 years and the financial Celtic Tiger roared from 1995 to 2007. Now both Church and Tiger are moribund, or dead, depending on how maudlin you want to be or to become as St. Patrick’s Day approaches.
The heartbreak is that nobody in the Vatican seems to be in the dot-connecting business. No matter how many official reports or media exposés, no matter how many ad limina visits or episcopal memoirs, the bureaucracy just does not get it.
The Irish church is on the verge of total collapse. A third of the theologians in Germany are calling for reform. The US church suffers a scandal a day.
I am sick of it. You are too. Let’s talk.
It’s not just in Phoenix, where Bishop Thomas Olmstead erased “Catholic” from the identity of St. Joseph Hospital. That’s only the latest public issue, some would say scandal, to hit the headlines. A lot of folks could care less what any bishop thinks, and it’s happening all over.
“Tucson” will remain a code word for too many years to come, as the scars from wanton violence in that sunlit corner of the United States refuse to fade from view. Among the gravely wounded, Gabrielle Giffords, a congresswoman married to an astronaut. The world remains transfixed by her story.