The joy of sects

Is the Catholic Church becoming little more than a sect?

Jamie Manson, a columnist at NCR offers this observation:

With its attacks on same-sex marriage, battle against providing adequate health care for women, hostile takeover of LCWR and inquisition into the Girl Scouts, the hierarchy continues to make itself an embarrassing media spectacle in a society that long ago refused to accept the teaching on birth control, believes in women’s equality and increasingly supports same-sex marriage.

Even those who are not affected directly by these ideological battles find it odious that hierarchy is choosing to spend precious money and resources on lawsuits against the Obama administration and bizarre new campaigns like the Fortnight for Freedom.

Church leaders seem hell-bent on disenfranchising the greatest number of laity possible.

The question is, Why? Why is the hierarchy acting like the new boss who so wants to rid himself of the staff he inherited, he makes it as uncomfortable as possible for them to stay in the organization? Has the church leadership made a decision to downsize? Have they realized that the $2.2 billion in sex abuse settlements and the rapidly dwindling number of priests in the United States has rendered the church unable to provide for the needs of 72 million Catholics?

Perhaps all of these ideological battles — which, we are told, are grounded in Pope Benedict’s desire for a smaller, more faithful church — are really all about the money, or lack thereof. More than one commentator has suggested that the endgame in the crackdown on LCWR could be to recapture property, assets and pension reserves from religious communities.

Unfortunately, if the hierarchy continues on this path of mass disenfranchisement, what will result isn’t a smaller, more faithful church, but an insular, countercultural sect.

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