Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Defensive Reactions to Disclosure of 1997 Letter to Irish Bishops: Predictable and Tired

The apologetic maneuvers in light of the disclosure of that 1997 Vatican letter to the Irish bishops that I discussed in two postings yesterday (and here) are predictable: through a lawyer, the Vatican tells the public and Catholic faithful worldwide, yet again, that we just don't know enough to understand the subtle inner workings of its little nation state.  And Vaticanologist and ultimate insider John Allen says much the same at NCR.

Jesus could return and state unambiguously that the pastoral leaders of the Catholic church have spectacularly betrayed their pastoral trust in their handling of abuse cases, and still the Vatican and Mr. Allen, with strong backing of defensive epigones in the mainstream media, would find a way to let us know that we just haven't properly understood Jesus's plain words, doltish outsiders that we are.

Meanwhile, the exodus from the church continues in many places in the world, and right at the heart of this exodus is the bungled, shameful anti-pastoral leadership of the top leaders of the Catholic church today.  But that's an issue they and their apologists do not intend for anyone to bring to the table, and so we continue doing business as if huge numbers of folks aren't walking away from the church at all, and as if the exodus demands no attention at all.

Even theological attention, as the Catholic intellectual center in the U.S. continues jabbering away about the lack of revelance of contemporary theology--while doing so in clubbish, in-house, airy intellectual discussions that have nothing to do with the real lives of real people in a real church and real world today.  And while tacitly excluding from their closed inner-circle conversation many of the voices they most desperately need to hear and respond to, if they expect to be relevant as theologians.  And--just as with the pastoral leadership of the church in dealing with the evidence for a mass exodus of Catholics today--while never bringing to the table the hidden canons by which the center controls who is permitted inside and who is kept definitively outside . . . . 

Not a recipe for a bright or even viable future.  Nor for a church that wants to be credible as it pitches its message to the culture at large as a message about universal love, support for justice and human rights throughout the world, and God's welcoming embrace of the entire world.

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