What’s the real cancer at the heart of the church? Not pedophile priests…they’re a symptom of a much deeper problem. Gerald Warner at the Daily Telegraph let’s fly in this article about the real problem underlying the child abuse scandals. I think he’s on target in much of what he says.
The secular press are fond of saying that the child abuse problem is caused by the demand for priestly celibacy. There is an underlying cause, but it’s not that. The underlying cause is that too many Catholics have lost the plot completely. For the last forty years the church has been infected with modernism, and the key tenet of modernism is that there is no such thing as the supernatural. What you see is what you get.
This serious sickness at the very heart of the church swept through monasteries, convents and seminaries. The honest priests, nuns and religious lost their faith and got out. The lazy ones stayed put and enjoyed a meal ticket for life. No longer believing in the reality and power of the sacraments, they drifted into a no man’s land in which they were priests, bishops and religious without believing in religion. What were they supposed to do? They decided to re-create the church as a kind of dining club with a social conscience.
When it came to sexuality, well since the invention of the pill, everyone else was playing around with whoever they wanted. The apostate priests had no reason to insist on such an outmoded thing as chastity, and if no one else had to be chaste, why should they? If they no longer had to believe in heaven or hell (you make your own heaven or hell here on earth don’t you know?) then there was no real penalty if your sexual tastes were, errm, unconventional. Homosexuality was presented as natural, and sex wasn’t for procreation, and everybody was sexually active, so why not play around with whoever you liked?
A therapeutic culture swept in and suddenly nobody was a sinner. “I’m OK. You’re OK.” You don’t need punishment or banishment. You don’t even need forgiveness and a demand for reparation. You need therapy. No wonder they covered up. In their anthropology no one was a sinner. No one was bad. They were just wounded. They were just sick. They needed help.
G.K.Chesterton said that “Every argument is a theological argument.” and it is always and everywhere true that a moral crisis is linked with a theological crisis. Benedict XVI’s letter to the Irish church rightly calls for a spiritual and liturgical and theological renewal. The pedophile priest crisis is not just a crisis of morals, but a crisis of belief.
Finally, this crisis of belief is not just a crisis among a few twisted and evil perverts. It is a crisis of belief in our whole church. Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, Mother Superiors, Seminary Rectors, Theologians, Priests and people have all been swamped with something other than the red blooded Catholic faith of our Fathers. They’ve been tromping along like drug addled zombies following a feel good false religion that has been used to deceive millions.
We all need repentance in the face of this. We all need to turn again to the awareness that the devil is real, that sin is real, that nice people are capable of terrible evil. We must be on our guard. We must believe in the power and reality of the sacraments. We must be New Testament Christians with missionary zeal, the discipline of ascetical prayer and a warrior spirit.
Nothing else will do.