Sex, sinners, scandal, schism and the Church in crisis … but is the world’s oldest organisation dying?
The barrage of clerical perversion accusations has shaken the confidence of the world’s billion Roman Catholics. But underlying the sex scandals a more sinister drama is playing out in Rome. Vatican observers are warning that the Roman Catholic Church, a once monolithic religious presence and global voice of moral authority is in free fall. They also argue that no human being on earth will escape “unimaginable” repercussions if she fails. Some suspect that the present media spotlight, tirelessly scanning for paedophiles in cassocks, serves a double purpose. It not only smears the image of the Church and erodes public confidence in its religious mission but also provides a smokescreen behind which the schismatic factions beaver to consolidate a power base to change unpopular (to them) doctrines and disciplines. Conservative church leaders are having to contend with near intractable problems on two fronts; to generate an effective response to the would be reformers spreading virulent religious schism within and systematically destabilising the Church, and to steady the faith of millions of believers rocked by really serious scandal magnified by the world-wide media feeding frenzy.
Catholics are so fixated by endless news flashes about clerical turpitude that many have become habituated to the sense that their holy Church is now irredeemably corrupt and has become a thing of shame. At the same time the modern day Vatican Jeremiahs fear they are failing to alert the world’s bishops to the extent of the wider catastrophe. The magnitude of this sex scandal cannot be exaggerated; it is not just about homosexual predators, but that these homosexuals are alleged to be priests; and worse, that the same priests, once objects of respect, even veneration, are accused of violating pre-pubescent infants on an industrial scale. These intolerable “revelations” provide a handy smokescreen for what some theologians believe is the even greater scandal, the death of the Church, and the resulting moral and civic chaos affecting entire nations.
Incidentally it is a note of the Church’s Divine guarantee that she will not only be hated by the world but also betrayed from within, ref. Judas Iscariot who betrayed Christ for thirty pieces of silver.
The schism which is the most powerful ever to have threatened the Universal Church happens also to be the biggest news story in history. Amazingly the media worldwide, blinkered to anything other than salacious gossip, ignores the probable death throes of the 2,000 year old mother of Christianity, the oldest organisation on earth.