Tuesday, March 12, 2013

So ... Catholocism

Links to the Rocky Mountain Telegram
As I enter what is most likely the second half of my life, and the Catholic Church congregates to elect its next leader, I find myself wondering about change.

I was raised Catholic. Well, kind of. May parents weren't Catholics, but they sent us to Catholic School. Weird, I know, but whatever. I went to Saint Anne's School, on Queen Anne Hill, just above downtown Seattle, through the fifth grade. I can't remember now which is which, but I went through first communion, or confirmation, or possibly both (I'd have to look it up to recall for sure).

Anyway, the point is, I find myself wondering how much we can really change. Both we as people, and we as institutions. Personally, I know from experience that a person can change drastically over a lifetime. I've done so myself, but when it comes to institutions, I wonder.

Don't get me wrong, I think the Catholic Church does some wonderful things. But they do some pretty terrible things as well. I recently saw a horrifying documentary about the rampant sexual abuse within the church, called Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, (which in Latin would mean, My Greatest Fault or Mistake) and it was of course sad to see the damage one sick person in a position of power can inflict on so many young people under his authority, but it was absolutely infuriating to be so exposed to the level of corruption that has for so long covered these crimes up and protected the interests of the church at the expense of the innocent.

Don't worry, this isn't that kind of post. If it was, we'd be here all day, but I did just want to say something about change, and I for one, as a recovering Catholic, hope the church can make a decision in the coming days that will be a change for the better. Maybe elect a young Pope? Or an African or Latin American one?

Please, whatever you must do, Cardinals, not another stuffy old white European.

25 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Any group that does that is wrong, on so many levels.
Funny, my parents never went to church, but they dumped my brother and I off for Sunday school at the base church every week.

Ted Cross said...

I think the abuse scandals demonstrate pretty clearly that it is wrong to believe that human beings can be forced to remain celibate. It just isn't natural, and it leads to disaster.

J.L. Murphey said...

It's not unusual for non Catholic parents to send their children to Catholic schools...it was thought to have a better, more rounded curriculum.

Is it my imagination or are we going through Popes like shoes? 5 popes in my lifetime so far. Even though they are old, they are not that old when chosen. They are lasting five years at best in their positions in the past two decades.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I do think it's easy for people vs. institutions to change. We can only hope that there is some change with the new pope, but I'm not holding my breath. They sure need to change though and really deal with their problems.

And Happy Birthday, Matt! Hope you have a great day.

farawayeyes said...

When someone is more concerned with protecting an institution, than protecting the people that institution is supposed to serve, you better believe there is some serious moral corruption involved. Now, to my way of thinking, the question is can they come clean and disentangle themselves from all of the lies. It certainly will be interesting to see. If they truly believe their own dogma

farawayeyes said...

Sorry...I have been having a load of computer problems. Some may be this ancient machine I work with. Most are due to the snakey connections that exist here i de islands and the rest would just be me.

Anyway...what I was saying before my comment was so rudely published, mid-sentence is...

If they truly believe their own dogma and God sanctions their church as his authority on earth, then cleaning house and telling the truth should be easy. If not, well, then there you have it.

Old Kitty said...

I hope hope hope they choose Cardinal Tagle. I hope they do the decent brave thing and do so. I doubt it though.

Take care
x

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Sadly, pedophiles are attracted to places of power where children congregate...coaching, scouting, mentoring, churches...no institution is safe. Exposure is the only way to clean it up. A pope who is not afraid of bad press is a good idea.

Bish Denham said...

I agree, the Catholic church needs new, young blood. But I fear it's still entrenched in a good-old-boy system.

What is most infuriating is they're knowing abuse was going on and doing nothing, or simply moving a priest to another church. That to me is unforgivable.

Rusty Webb said...

Large institutions tend to get corrupt pretty quickly without some strong checks in place... the catholic church isn't the only religious body that has a history of abuse that has been covered up. Secular institutions have done it too.

I'd be impressed if they church can change on its own. Without some very strong outside pressure, it's just tough to do.

Sarah Ahiers said...

I was also raised catholic. First communion is first and usual around when you're 7. I never confirmed. My parents wanted us to, but mostly because my mom said it would be easier if i ever married a catholic. I don't think that's all that likely, though.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Yeah Should be interesting to see what they do.

Andrew Leon said...

There has been talk that there's a chance we might see our first American pope, but Catholics aren't ready for a minority as pope, yet, I'm pretty sure.

Whoever they elect, I just hope he's better than the one that just resigned. He was pretty horrible and reversed many of the positives that John Paul was able to accomplish.

Faith E. Hough said...

Matt, you know I love your blog, but you've got me in a fighting mood. :)
Did you really just call John Paul II a "stuffy old white European?" First of all, he was one of the youngest popes ever elected; second, he was anything but stuffy. After centuries of predominantly Italian popes, it was pretty daring of them to elect a Polish pope (the first one) and then a German pope. Being part German myself, I can't help sympathizing with any German viewed as stuffy, too...comes with the territory, I guess, but I'd hate if people looked down on me because I was reserved and intellectual!
I'd love to see a Latin or African pope leading our church--I have great admiration for some of the cardinals from that area, and I think they could lead the church well. But I see it as a racist sensibility to presume that an "old, white European" couldn't possibly be holy or savvy enough to do the job.
As a practicing Catholic, the scandals in the church cause me so much pain, and I know it is a priority of many in the church to institute reforms. The Church is a pretty dang old institution and has needed reform before, and has come through it stronger...and I expect the same will happen soon. So keep looking on the bright side, Matt. :)

Matthew MacNish said...

I usually reply by email, but I'll add this here, for Faith:

I wasn't referring to anyone in particular, but rather a trend. And you're certainly allowed to disagree with me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Faith.

Michael Offutt, S.F.A. said...

If you want my opinion on this, shoot me an email. I got a whole lot to say about the Catholic church.

Laura Stephenson said...

Why do you think a different race of person would automatically be better? I thought we disproved that with Obama already.

Matthew MacNish said...

@ Laura - That was mostly meant to be tongue-in-cheek, and I'm honestly not sure much of anything would help, which makes me sad, because I used to love the Catholic Church, but I do think trying something new, especially a much younger Pope, might help. Not that I'm really qualified to say.

Katy Upperman said...

I consider myself a recovering Catholic as well, Matt. My great uncle, who is a priest, would probably keel over to hear me say that, but yeah. There's just too much about Catholicism that makes me uncomfortable. While I'm not sure the race of the future Pope will make any difference, I do think you're on the right track with your suggestion that a younger Pope might be more willing to bring about some change. Only time will tell, I suppose.

maine character said...

One thing about those bishops - they got friggin' awesome wallpaper.

And the Church will change for the same reason any corporation does - they're losing too many customers.

It's just that it's taking them longer 'cause it's a bit embarrassing for them to have to admit that they could've been wrong about something.

Elise Fallson said...

I tend to be pretty pessimistic about these kinds of things. Of course I always hope for the better, but deep down, I don't think it will happen. Not in this lifetime anyway.

Joanne Fritz said...

Well, personally I'd love to see a female pope! But it's never gonna happen without female priests first, and we know that's never gonna happen!

I admired John Paul II but didn't care for Benedict. (And no, I'm not Catholic, but my husband is!) The abuse and subsequent cover-ups turned me away from ever becoming Catholic.

SC Author said...

It's be really interesting to see whom they elect. And I went to a Christian school too! I don't think it was Catholic, though :/

Nate Wilson said...

Of course institutions can change, just not as fast as people can. And even less so when talking about something as long-standing and steeped in tradition as the Catholic Church. Little by little, they'll elect more forward-thinking Popes, and find ways to retain some of the flock they're losing.

I still think they should bring in Tim Curry as Cardinal (or Pope!) Richelieu and do daily Three Musketeers reenactments. But alas, they won't let me into the conclave.

Nancy Thompson said...

I was raised Catholic. Went to Catholic school K-college and loved every minute of it. I was devout. Still am. But I'm also a breakaway. Forgiveness can be a tough thing. But still, I love my Church. I lived all over & so was a member of many parishes. Yet I never, not once, felt uncomfortable around any priest as a child. It wasn't 'til I was adult that they let me down. And yet, I still love my Church. I do believe many if not most of the upper echelon within the Church to be corrupt. And for this reason & for the American pedophile cases, I pray they do NOT elect an American Cardinal to be Pope. A South American or African one would be most welcome & due.