I was stunned when my mother told me the other day that she would not be going to Bellahouston Park to see Pope Benedict strut his stuff. Her reasoning being that she would not support a pontif who had swept child sex abuse under the carpet.
Now let’s put my astonishment in context here. My mother is a 74 year old, card carrying, lifelong Catholic who practices her religion with devotion several times a week.
For her to ‘disown’ her spiritual leader is, in my book, brave, principled and deeply admirable.
And I am wholly (if you’ll excuse the pun) with her.
I too am a, rather flakier, card holder and I am rather less supportive in general terms of the Catholic church. And, for me, the whole destabilisation of the organisation under Pope Benedict’s custodianship has increasingly looked like a religion losing control.
I strongly agree with this brave writer to The Guardian only last week
If the supreme pontiff wanted to restore the moral credibility of his church, he could do even better than that. He could, as Jesus did, take the sins of his brethren on himself. He could quit, whether personally responsible for the global cover-up that has put Roman Catholicism into an unprecedented crisis or not. That there is no precedent for a papal resignation would make it totally remarkable, even saintly. In secular terms, the holy father would, however, be doing no more than any CEO of an international corporation in a comparably disgraceful situation. He would be forced by his chairman to go. God has abdicated that kind of authority and left even a pope with free will.
There is, as it happens, a recent Protestant precedent. When the Lutheran bishop of Hamburg learned of a serious case of child abuse within her jurisdiction, though not directly responsible, she promptly resigned. Anything less, she said, would not suffice. Perhaps a woman’s moral sensibility is stronger. Were that, per impossibile, to happen at the Vatican, a successor would be set free to embark on the new reformation that would need to centre on vital issues of gender and sexuality.
Brighton, East Sussex
Again, in the Guardian, on Monday, Madeleine Bunting made some interesting observations.
In her article she cited that his clumsiness (to put it mildly) in handling not just child sex abuse, but also female ordination and the church’s relationship with Islam has reignited anti Catholic feeling in the UK. Quite rightly she points to the impact of the child sex abuse scandals in that it strikes at the core of our religion and totally undermines the authority of the clergy over the laity. Deference to the clergy is in freefall. How could it be any other way. “What ye sew, so shall ye reap.”
And yet, and yet, despite collapsing confidence and church attendance all over Europe business is booming.
Africans and Asians are flocking to the church in their droves.
So what? Business is bad in Europe? We can just invest our marketing effort in new markets can’t we?
So what if the old guard lose faith; there plenty more we can get through missionary work.
I don’t want to sound totally cynical, but it’s hard not to. The entire edifice of the Catholic Church is built on faith, blind faith critics argue, and faith is built on trust.
When a 74 year old blind faith follower votes with her feet the whole pack of cards looks in very great danger of falling down.
And it’s so easy to fix.
Zero tolerance needs to be adopted and the church should be utterly cleansed of these men once and for all.
Then, maybe then, Catholicism will find an Indian summer in Europe.
As for Bellahouston Park. I hope it’s half empty.