(About a 3 minute read)
It seems it has been at least 20 years now since the first credible reports of wide-spread child rape and sexual abuse by Catholic priests began making the news. Since then, the reports have spread to nearly every industrialized nation where the Church has a presence. Even Poland, I recall, has reported victims in the thousands.
I suppose too, the documented numbers are most likely well below the actual number of victims. Ten thousand children in all of Australia? Seems incredible it should be so few over 50 years.
Of course, it’s not just the Catholics. To the South of me, Pueblo, Colorado is home to an insurance agency that specializes in insuring congregations against liability claims that their pastors raped or molested someone. According to the local newspaper, the agency gets on average eight credible claims a week.
But the Catholic Church — unlike most Protestant denominations — is quite obviously fully committed to the business of hiding the crimes of its priests.
Whatever else can be said about the scandal, this much is alone sufficient to damn the Church: It systematically hides the abuse and protects the perpetrators of it. And I believe for that reason alone the Church should be ripped open in every country it has a presence — it’s internal records should be seized and published. And at least some of its clergy and staff should be imprisoned.
Add to the child abuse, the immorality of nuns and priests telling Africans lies to dissuade them from using condoms in regions where AIDS is epidemic.
Add to that the stupidity of ignoring the population problem.
Add to that the usual abuses of any large organization towards people.
Add it all up, sum it however you might, but do not — do not — throw away the traditions of the Church. Even if you throw out all of the current clergy this Friday, and then start with fresh clergy on Monday, do not throw out the traditions.
In my opinion, the rich Catholic theological, spiritual, and religious traditions should not be devalued to any degree at all — although I would honestly reduce the Church to near ashes and then rebuild her anew.
For one thing, the traditions of the Church belong not just to Catholics, but to all of humanity. They enrich us all. They are among our legacies as humans.
For instance, the early Church support for the sciences (contra the myth the Church generally persecuted the sciences) greatly furthered the rise of the sciences that have benefited the whole world in uncountable ways.
And yes, we must include here the often pioneering Catholic ethical traditions — at least the times they got it right. Whatever ethical restraints the world has today agreed to place on the conduct of war arguably descend from the Catholic rules for the practice of war that were instituted during the Middle Ages.
So I think in an ideal world, the Church would be torn down to its foundations – most or all of the current clergy evicted and replaced — and then rebuilt according to its finer traditions and practices.
Of course, it is precisely because I hold such views that the Pope never asks my opinion.