Margaret Talbot has a great commentary, 'Higher Authority', in this week's (11 March2013) issue of The New Yorker. She deals with the current troubles of the Catholic Church, especially those dealing with sexual abuse of minors and related issues.
She relates the story of Cardinal Roger Mahony, recently deposed archbishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Seems that despite his woes, Mahony is in Rome and will serve as an elector of the new pope. Good for you, Roger!
What struck me was this passage in Talbot's article [italics mine]:
What is distinctive about child abuse in the Catholic Church is not its existence, or even its coverup; in recent months alone, we’ve seen evidence of similar cowardice at Penn State and the BBC. What is distinctive is that Catholic officials can find a higher purpose—protecting the sanctity of the priesthood—in shielding abusers, and a spiritually rewarding humility in enduring criticism of their conduct. Mahony has been blogging about the public disparagement he has received, and he compares it to what Christ withstood, urging the faithful to join him in exploring what it is to “take up our cross daily and to follow Jesus—in rejection, in humiliation, and in personal attack.” But, unlike the criminal prosecution of perpetrators—or real Church reform—that doesn’t do much to help victims or to prevent abuse.
Pretty neat - the Church and one of its elite using incidents of sexual abuse to achieve a 'higher purpose' and comparing it to what Jesus Christ underwent.
Next, here's her passage about women in the priesthood [again, italics are mine]:
Last fall, the Vatican dismissed an American priest who had participated in an ordination ceremony for a woman. The Church is doctrinally immune from majority rule, so perhaps it doesn’t matter that, according to a 2010 Times poll, sixty-seven per cent of American Catholics think priests should be allowed to marry and fifty-nine per cent think women should be allowed to be priests. Yet surely a Church that expels a priest for advocating women’s ordination faster than it does men who have been credibly accused of raping children is in some kind of trouble.
Couldn't agree more with her last sentence.
Can't wait to see which European Roger and his buddies elect. But be careful what you wish for. If you think a developing-world pope would be 'more liberal', recall that the most conservative - homophobic, anti-women - bishops in the Episcopalian/Anglican Church are from Africa.
“Theology being the work of males, original sin was traced to the female.” - Barbara W. Tuchman