Morally bankrupt hierarchy

Religion and politics are intertwined. Religion is not the same as spirituality, particularly if we’re talking about institutional religion.

The political structure of the Catholic Church works against spiritual goals that should be the main concerns of religion—kindness, fairness, and compassion. Instead, Catholic hierarchy wants to tell people what to believe and what to do. It wants to judge what’s good and what’s sinful.

Pope Francis’ dislike of judging sins and his focus on loving kindness do not sit well with Catholic conservatives, who flourished under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. They have veered further right since then. I believe Benedict resigned because he realized he could not fix financial and sexual corruption rampant in Church hierarchy. Pope Frances was voted in to reform it, but he receives steady pressure from right-wingers.

The extreme right is led by Cardinal Raymond Burke, who claims to know the “authentic” teachings of the Catholic Church. His anti-Francis views are spewed on Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) and the National Catholic Register.
The extreme right generally stands against empowering women, against gays, against married priests, against contraception, against other religions, for capital punishment, for the Latin Mass and priests facing away from the congregation, and for the privileged status of priests.
Clerical privilege is what caused the sex abuse crisis, according to most analysts.

The right likes sin-talk—other people’s sins. Pope John Paul kept taking money from sex criminals, most blatantly the Legionaries of Christ, after being informed of their crimes. Yet, Pope Benedict blamed the sex abuse crisis on modern secularity and the sexual revolution. In such acts, Catholic hierarchy perfectly exemplifies the religious “frauds” and “hypocrites” whom Jesus’ condemns in Matthew 23.

While elements of the Catholic hierarchy spew anti-Francis rhetoric (because of his supposed “heresies”), Catholic officials also bemoan Catholics leaving the Church. At the same time, they balk at Francis wanting to bring back into the fold divorced Catholics who remarried.

How that goes over shows in these words from a former student of mine. She wrote this after reading my memoir, Beyond Parochial Faith: A Catholic Confesses.

I found your book to be very interesting on two levels. On one level, I felt empathy for all the psychological and physical struggles you endured while still being a parent, educator, writer. I have gone through some struggles, too, but have been lucky in health, thankfully, so can't imagine adding all of your physical issues and coming out ahead like you have.

Your thoughts on spiritual issues struck me in a very personal way, because I also had many of the same thoughts, but did no research as you had.  I went to 8 years at a Catholic school and then to the College of St. Benedict. (They didn't have my major, so I didn't graduate from there.)

I asked the priests and nuns many questions regarding my confusion on believing some of the teachings, dogma, etc. I was told once by a nun not to ask the priest any more questions.  I was also told more than once that I was a "doubting Thomas."

So, when I read your book, I connected with the spiritual part of it and your concept of Jesus being a prophet, charismatic human being, revolutionary of the time, etc. I do not attend a formal church as you do, but feel very spiritual from the there again, I connected. 

I was divorced and didn't feel I needed to go through men to annul my marriage. Felt it was personal and I would deal with it.  I got remarried and had a wonderful husband for 25 years that my kids loved. He was there for all the births of the grandchildren and he was their favorite grandfather. He died of cancer 3 years ago.

The grands are now receiving 1st Communion, etc., but I am not welcome to receive that sacrament. Talked to a priest about that. He said I would have to get an annulment for the 1st marriage, and confess to a sin for the second one. 

Goodbye again, Catholic Church. My 2nd marriage was not a sin, and I will never confess it as such.... nor will I ever go to confession.  I can talk to God myself. Don't need a man to do it for me.

I also always felt frustrated about the roles of males, and lack of roles of females. Always wondered why all of the writings, positions of authority, makers of rules were all men!!! So, there again, I connected with your writings.

I will read your book again, because I read it very quickly and know I missed many areas that need more thought. 

I applaud Cheryl’s decision to leave despite my decision to stay in the Catholic Church. This writing gives evidence of her courage and sound moral bearings, which put to shame the behavior of Catholic officials.


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