Sunday, July 18, 2010

Catholic Church’s credibility crisis deepens

Catholic Church’s credibility crisis deepens
July 17, 2010Published on July 16, 2010 in Religion and Tennessee Voices. 5 Comments Tags: Catholic Church, Sex Abuse Scandal, Vatican.
On May 17 there was an arti­cle in The Ten­nessean about the class-action suit brought by three men in fed­eral court in Louisville (“Vat­i­can pre­pares U.S. sex case defense”). The suit alleges the Vat­i­can is liable because of sex­ual abuse by Louisville priests. The premise is that priests and bish­ops are employ­ees of the Holy See. The defense denies this and states there is no evi­dence that the Vat­i­can super­vised the Louisville priests.

Jim Zralek

An arti­cle July 1 in The New York Times shows the bish­ops and priests were com­pletely under the con­trol of the Vat­i­can. The arti­cle cites numer­ous instances when Amer­i­can bish­ops requested per­mis­sion to remove priests cred­i­bly accused and were refused.

Assaults could have been reduced

My inter­est as a for­mer priest and prac­tic­ing Catholic lies in how the church han­dled the whole sex abuse cri­sis. Over 100 chil­dren were abused by priests within the Catholic Church in Ten­nessee. The assault of these chil­dren could have been avoided, greatly reduced in num­ber or at least han­dled more justly and quickly than it was. And after almost 50 years, the Vat­i­can has finally admit­ted the prob­lem was not biased media but sin within the Church. The Dio­cese of Nashville now removes any cred­i­bly accused priest and inves­ti­gates the charge.

Hans Kung, a promi­nent Catholic the­olo­gian and class­mate of the present pope dur­ing much of his school­ing, wrote an open let­ter to all Catholic bish­ops in the Irish Times on April 16. Both Kung and the pope were the­olo­gians at the Sec­ond Vat­i­can Coun­cil. Kung points out the church is in its worst cred­i­bil­ity cri­sis since the Ref­or­ma­tion. He asserts the pope has taken back many of the pro­gres­sive move­ments of Vat­i­can II, espe­cially the con­trol of all leg­isla­tive, exec­u­tive and judi­cial powers.

Kung asks the bish­ops to speak out in oppo­si­tion, but they never will. In recent times when the pope’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive con­sid­ered a priest for the office of bishop, he deter­mined the can­di­date would not ques­tion com­pul­sory celibacy for the priest­hood and the church’s rule against con­tra­cep­tion. Thus, you have bish­ops who are in lock­step with Rome.

Church should be open to feedback

The strange fact of his­tory is that the early church was much more demo­c­ra­tic than the present church. Peter and Paul argued openly about the process of accept­ing Jews into the church. St. Ambrose was cho­sen bishop of Milan by accla­ma­tion of the people.

There are not enough priests to serve the Catholic com­mu­ni­ties of Amer­ica. Sem­i­nar­ies and parishes have closed. This is due partly to com­pul­sory celibacy. Priests from for­eign coun­tries are help­ing but because of lan­guage bar­ri­ers fre­quently can­not be fully understood.

The ordi­na­tion of women is a topic that Rome refuses to dis­cuss. There were women priests in the early church.

Every church and every soci­ety has prob­lems, but the health­ier ones allow for feed­back and dia­logue. They are not ruled by a soli­tary prelate. I love the Catholic Church and admire many of its won­der­ful priests and faith­ful. Is it fair to them to ignore their needs and let one man make all the decisions?

I pray that Rome will listen.

Jim Zralek is a retired fed­eral pro­ba­tion and parole offi­cer who lives in Nashville.

1 comment:

anagasto said...

"The strange fact of his­tory is that the early church was much more demo­c­ra­tic than the present church."

Not strange. The original church was very small and not yet institutionalized.