22.4.11

The bully boy culture in the Catholic Church-A superb article by a retired priest-Eric Hodgens which I reproduce in full.

From The Age (Melbourne), Wednesday 5 January 2011: 13. Church needs to answer critics, instead it silences them The Catholic hierarchy has lost its way but refuses to discuss it. ERIC HODGENS CATHOLIC Church authorities recently censored an article posted on the popular website CathNews.com. The article, “Reflections on an Ordination Golden Anniversary”, was a reminis cence by a priest after 50 years of ministry. By midday, the link no longer worked. Inquiries revealed that a church “higher up” had prevailed on the CathNews editor to pull the link. As the censorship became public, it became the story. However, the main issue is not the censorship, but rather the view that the pulled article was arguing: that the church’s lead ership has lost its way but is not willing to discuss or even consider that there may be a point. This is precisely the mentality that got them caught in the headlights with the paedophilia crisis. They ignored, even demonised, the victims in order to protect the institution which, in this case, was indefensible. They seem to have an unhealthy institutional firewall against any criticism at all. When will they learn? Meanwhile, loyal Catholics have charged the bishops with compliantly following regressive Vatican policy which they believe is harming the church. It would be disloyal not to criticise. The Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) came to a climax in 1965 with its decree on “The Church in the Modern World”. This recognised the new soci ety that had emerged after World War II. It recognised that the modern secular state is not only here to stay but a very favourable environment for proclaiming the Gospel and, indeed, more in tune with the freedom of the Gospel than a state in which Catholic religion is established. Bishops tend to revert to established religion style when questioned or criticised. Hence the censorship attempt. German sociologist Max Weber taught us a century ago that bureaucracies tend to turn habits into values. Is that what has happened with priestly celibacy, women’s ordination and denying Holy Communion to remarried divorcees? These now burning issues were not issues in the old world. And what about homosexual love, IVF and contraception? Does forbidding them enhance the values taught by Jesus or simply stick to old rules out of habit? A vast number of loyal Catholics say it is time for review. “A vast crowd of priests and laity are alarmed at the bully culture of Rome.” A vast crowd of priests and laity who passionately love the Church are alarmed at the fundamentalism pervading the mentality of the Roman bur eaucracy and many bishops. They are alarmed at the bully culture of Rome — which surfaces in turn in the management style of so many bishops — and at the favoured status given to authoritarian move ments including Opus Dei, the Legionaries of Christ (now discredited and under reconstruction) and the Heralds of the Gospel. And they are alarmed at having a new and unsatisfact ory translation of the liturgy about to be foisted on them due to power politics at the top. This last confrontation may well backfire. Many priests are simply not going to introduce the new translation. They say that if the Anglican newcomers and the Latin Mass groups can keep their liturgy and language, so can they. Getting people to change their minds is always hard. Jesus had difficulty getting his message accepted. Maybe it is time for today’s church leaders to listen to the voices and reconsider. They might just be converted. Maybe there is no need to kill the story. The censored article can be found at tinyurl.com/2fu2n7c Eric Hodgens was ordained a Catholic priest in 1960 and retired in 2007.

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