Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Robert McClory on the Anti-Gospel of Catholic Leaders, and Exodus from Catholic Church

In Chicago Catholic News, Robert McClory, professor emeritus of Northwestern School of Journalism, writes in response to Cardinal Francis George's assertion that one in three American adults raised Catholic has left the church due to secularization.  For McClory, that's a far too simplistic answer to the mass exodus.  It's also one that lets George himself and his brother bishops off the hook.

Here's McClory's analysis:

What George does not acknowledge is that for many who have fled, perhaps the majority in the last 10 years, the Catholic Church was abandoned because of the Church. An all-too-pervasive anti-gospel has compelled people to leave their Catholic heritage, not to embrace secularism or self-sufficiency but to find some peace of mind.

What is this anti-gospel? It is the persistent priest abuse scandal that drains respect for Church authority even as it keeps bubbling up all over the world. It is the shameful failure of the pope and bishops to take control of the scandal in its early manifestations and in many cases to spread the contagion by transferring offending priests over and over into sensitive situations. It is the fact that many self-protecting bishops to this day have not been removed from their positions, have not offered contrition or done penance and remain in their cathedrals living as if nothing had happened, while their dioceses dry up and go bankrupt. It is the rigidity of an institution which relies on its naked authority to pronounce final judgment on so many critical moral issues that deserve at least a hearing, an institution that repeatedly denies the sense of the faithful has any validity in this day and age. It is the clericalism of those priests and bishops who lord it over their flocks and require the higher seats on every occasion. Finally, the anti-gospel is the ongoing effort to convince Catholics that the Second Vatican Council changed nothing and that the spirit of that council is a dangerous illusion that must be dispelled.

The behavior of the pastoral leaders of the Catholic church has become, today, for many of us a counter-sign to the gospel the church itself proclaims.  It is precisely our belief in what the church has taught us that forces us to distance ourselves from what these men have made (and continue to make) of the Catholic church. 

And when they've behaved without a scrap of moral integrity in addressing the abuse situation, the bishops of Illinois and Minnesota and other places think that they can retrieve respect and bring Catholics back into the fold by attacking their gay brothers and sisters?  What gospels do these men of God read daily?

No comments: