In a massive downsizing, the Cleveland diocese is shuttering 50 parishes due to financial problems, lack of priests and a lack of practicing Catholics. What a mess. And what a trauma to all Clevelanders, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.
Ross Douthat, the designated conservative New York Times columnist, is a refreshing presence, often reminding me of my more traditional roots.
In the latest Atlantic he states flatly that the "Catholic Church is Finished," positing its collapse on the immensity of the Watergate-like sex abuse scandal. Douthat infers that the damage is so immense that the church's "big story" has become a tough sell.
The trouble he cites takes place, of course, within a culture increasingly influenced by a scientific mentality that relies on a kind of skepticism that makes Christian claims less marketable.
Douthat's succinct verdict generally sounds right to me and can be debated by others. My concern is that the concept of "sex scandal" needs to be expanded to include the church's treatment of women.
The two scandals, one involving clergy abusing children, and the other, Catholicism's relegation of women to subservience, are rarely linked by those who comment on the current crisis. But I think there's good reason to do so.
The New York Times columnist and Atlantic writer Ross Douthat gives the necessary nod to historical perspective(for those inclined to think the sex abuse crisis might sink the church) in a blog entry before coming to the following dire conclusion about the Catholic Church in Europe:
"But if the Church isn’t finished, period, it can still be finished for certain people, in certain contexts, in certain times. And so it is in this case: for millions in Europe and America, Catholicism is probably permanently associated with sexual scandal, rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ. And as in many previous dark chapters in the Church’s history, the leaders entrusted with that gospel have nobody to blame but themselves."
I have the same point of view when it comes to the crisis and what it might portend for the future. Consequently I find it curious that Pope Benedict would seek redemption for the institution in part through a new liturgical movement, as explained here by John Allen .
As John Allen reported yesterday (Triumph of theologians over diplomats in Vatican) Pope Benedict XVI today appointed Bishop Kurt Koch of Basel, Switzerland, as president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Koch succeeds Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has reached retirement age.
Here is the first reaction I have seen to Kasper's resignation: The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said:
By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
tSometime soon, the Vatican is expected to release a motu proprio, meaning a legal document under the pope’s authority, which will transfer responsibility for an aspect of marriage law from one Vatican office to another. Though it will probably fly below the public radar, the document provides a glimpse into Pope Benedict XVI’s approach to liturgy, meaning how the church celebrates the Mass and its other rituals.
tSpecifically, Benedict is expected to encourage the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Vatican's office for liturgical policy, to focus on promoting what he describes as a “new liturgical movement." The obvious question, of course, is what exactly he means by that.
Bishop Walter Mixa, the German bishop who resigned amid accusations of physical abuse, sexual harassment and alcoholism met with Pope Benedict XVI this morning.
The Associated Press reported that Benedict laid out the terms for Mixa's rehabilitation and that Mixa, 69, again apologized for his mistakes.
There's a fascinating new study out of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government that's the subject of a story on Salon.com.
According to the Salon piece: "This new study examines how waterboarding has been discussed by America's four largest newspapers over the past 100 years, and finds that the technique, almost invariably, was unequivocally referred to as "torture" -- until the U.S. Government began openly using it and insisting that it was not torture, at which time these newspapers obediently ceased describing it that way." The study itself can be found here.
Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Archbishop Celestino Migliore, currently Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations in New York, as apostolic nuncio, or ambassador, to Poland. Read more ....
The Catholic peace group Pax Christi USA has announced that it will honor the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) with its Eileen Egan Peacemaker Award during Pax Chrisit's national conference in Chicago July 18.
In announcing the honor, Pax Christi head Dave Robinson said, “Everyone in Pax Christi USA knows and recognizes that women religious are the backbone of the Catholic peace and justice movement."