Sunday, 3 March 2013

A Catholic Brain Dump

John Cornwell is the writer of "Hitler's Pope"; a book not without some controversy. So when he writes an article for the Daily Mail, which spells out some of the current controversies within the Vatican and postulates that Pope Benedict XVI resigned to bring an end to them, we should read it with a degree of scepticism. But it is an interesting description of the troubles that continue to haunt the upper echelons of the Catholic church.

A lot of the reporting on the Catholic church's scandals is based more on a puerile sort of rubber necking than actual concern for the victims, for the church or for those of us whose relationships and lives get attacked by Catholic cardinals and bishops on a near daily basis. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother to care (considering I'd probably open a nice big bottle of champagne should Catholicism suffer some sort of major calamity). But unfortunately, whilst we have people like Cardinal O'Brien trying to influence our Government, we must care about the internal workings of this religion.

Speaking of Cardinal O'Brien... the claims against him remain unresolved and so we must give him the benefit of the doubt in terms of what may or may not have happened. However it is interesting reading one of his accusers remarking on the "cold disapproval" they experienced when they reported their concerns, and that he was warned about the damage his accusations might cause to the church. Which only goes to shows how little the Catholic hierarchy has learnt from previous controversies.

And when one speaks of Cardinal O'Brien one can't help thinking of one word in particular: hypocrisy. If the allegations are true then Cardinal O'Brien has been one of those irritating people who tell us how we must live but fail to live up to their own standards. I saw this blog the other day on the subject of "Hypocrisy is now the only sin... ?" and found it missed the point somewhat whilst still pointing out some real problems with the media narrative. It suggests the problem people have with the Catholic church and people like Cardinal O'Brien is that they aren't living up to our expectations. But that isn't hypocrisy, that would be a naive belief in the goodness of people. No, the problem is that they are not living up their own expectations whilst they continue to demand others follow what they teach. And quoting Brendan O'Neill. Really?

"But I am concerned at how accusations of sexual wickedness have replaced political, moral or theological critiques to become the No1 shortcut to getting one over on people or groups you don't like."
Surely this acts in reverse too. Until very recently the church hardly engaged with homosexuality with political, moral or theological critiques and instead thrived on accusations of sexual wickedness! Now we should expect better of the church's opponents? That is hypocrisy in itself. Ultimately people are flawed (and whether you believe that is because they are part of a "Fallen" world or part of nature is neither here nor there on that front) and that is the cause of all these problems. But where I differ from Christians is that I believe people can become better through their own will in the here and now rather than be redeemed in the hereafter by the blood of Christ. Thus I probably hold us all to a higher standard than Christians do. There is no being let off the hook for your own actions in my worldview....

Which leads us neatly on to this fascinating letter on why Bishops might cover up abuse. It is this sort of insight that a lot of the media narrative has been missing.

No comments: