Monday, February 4, 2013

Obama Administration Grants HHS Concessions to Catholic Institutions, Centrist Commentators Cry Victory, While Headlines about the Catholic Church Say . . .

And here's where the determination of the current leaders of the Catholic church to maintain at all costs the historically developed and entirely mutable system of clericalism about which I just blogged has brought the Catholic church at this point in its history: 

As the Los Angeles Times notes yesterday in an editorial statement about the mess in that Catholic archdiocese: 

What is most horrible about the facts in the paragraph above is that they come as a surprise to almost no one. 

That "paragraph above": it's about the wearyingly predictable story that any Catholic of conscience following the news in recent years can now recite by heart: the hierarchical failure to protect children from abuse, the decision of top hierarchical leaders (in this case, Cardinal Mahony) to protect their reputations and that of the hierarchy, the years of expensive cover-up and hardball legal tactics designed to clobber abuse survivors and keep documents sealed.

They come as a surprise to almost no one. This is what most people now expect from the top pastoral leaders of the Catholic church.

The record grows more grotesque by the week . . . .

We who are Catholic now fully expect the grotesque to be splashed across the headlines of major newspapers around the world, with the tag "Catholic" closely attached to the word "grotesque." We are no longer surprised to read the most grotesque news possible about our church and its leaders--about ourselves as Catholics, that is to say.  

The grotesque news about our church now comes as a surprise to almost no one.

We have come to a point in our history, following the tremendous promise of Vatican II with its hope for a fruitful interchange between Catholic ideas and values and the world around us, when we expect a new condemnation of Catholic thinkers inspired by Vatican II each week. As the latest issue of Voice of the Faithful's In the Vineyard newsletter states

Here are a few links to some of the recent condemnations.

Could anyone in her or his right mind, who lived through Vatican II with its promise to place Catholic ideas and values in a fruitful dialogue with contemporary society, have ever dreamed that a half century later, this would be a predictable new Catholic headline as the 21st century begins to unfold?

Here are a few links to some of the recent condemnations. The ones that are, you know, only a week old--as compared with the condemnations issued last month and the month before that . . .  .

And so is it any wonder that, as Betty Clermont notes in a new posting at Open Tabernacle, one significant Vatican watcher after another now uses the language of implosion to talk about what's happening in the Catholic church at its top levels of leadership?  A story of "chaos and mayhem," as Betty notes.

Grotesque news about the Catholic church no longer comes as a surprise to anyone; here's the latest list of powerful post-Vatican II thinkers whom Catholic leaders have condemned; the church's top leadership structures are imploding, producing chaos and mayhem: use this set of telling excerpts from recent news commentary on matters Catholic as a frame for analyzing the announcement last week that the U.S. Catholic bishops have scored a "victory" in the battle with the Obama administration regarding contraceptive coverage, and how is one to understand that "victory"?

The word "victory" is E.J. Dionne's, from his Commonweal statement about what happened between the bishops and the Obama administration: the administration has decided to permit Catholic institutions to have a buffer between themselves and health insurance programs providing contraceptives to women employed by those institutions, by shifting the responsibility for coverage to the insurance programs. This allows Catholic institutions to maintain that they have clean hands, that none of their monies are going towards cooperation with evil.

Michael Sean Winters at National Catholic Reporter also sees what has happened in winner-loser, victor-vanquished terms: we've won! We and our bishops have scored points. It "sure looks like a miracle," Winters proclaims.

So, a victory: headlines all around us about ongoing, painful corruption at the top levels of the Catholic church, about pastoral malfeasance that protects pedophile priests and savagely punishes anyone calling for dialogue about women's ordination; implosion, chaos, and mayhem in the Vatican; a new trove of documents in a major American archdiocese revealing ongoing cover-up attended by gross lies for years now in that archdiocese:

But it's a miracle! We've scored a victory! We're number one! Our tribal leaders have come out on top! We won the contraception battle!

As I say, use the painful headlines and editorial observations I've extracted from a number of sources today to frame the gleeful cries of victory from leading U.S. Catholic centrist journalists as they assess the announcement last week about the HHS guidelines, and those cries of victory and miracle sound a bit . . . silly . . . don't they? Victory?! Can anyone say "pyrrhic"?

We've won the right to pretend, under the guise and pretense of religious freedom, that we've vindicated a teaching that some 95% of us don't believe in the least, and to call that a vindication of Catholic values and Catholic ideas in the face of pretend enemies. While the tribal leaders who have insisted on this "victory" have brought our church to the point of chaos and mayhem, are spinning out of control with their unremitting one-a-week attacks on truth-tellers in our church, and the reading public has come to expect another astonishing headline about our church with each morning's news.

God grant us fewer such victories.  And God send us better journalists and parsers of Catholic ideas and values than the empty-headed, power-infatued lot we have now in the centrist commentariat of our leading American Catholic journals.

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