While seemingly no one paid attention – but the victims and themselves – the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently announced the ongoing abusive scandals were a product of the 1960s’ sex revolution.
And it took five years and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on research to discover priests and nuns’ criminal acts were not the church’s fault. Never mind the frequent cover-ups when miscreant ministers accused of abuse in one parish were switched to another within the same diocese. As a result of the research finding, one Alaskan bishop proposed all allegations of misconduct must be dismissed. For the sake of those still faithful to Rome, the conference voted the proposal down.
In the midst of all this ecclesiastical mess, St. Luke’s Episcopal congregation in Bladensburg voted nearly unanimously to swear allegiance to the Vatican, which accepted the married rector as a priest, spitting in the eyes of its celibate clergy. Pledging submission to Pope Benedict XVI, the church’s members say they seek relief from the Anglican Communion that permits dioceses relative freedoms.
But Catholic prelates must submit to standards of the Curia that is based in Rome, geographically and spiritually removed from the world’s communities. Pope John XXIII’s Vatican II sought dispersal of authority to individual countries; he called it Aggiornamiento—modernization. If his dream had worked out, national bishop conferences would have been free to deal with transgressions and scandals as they developed, in context. As it is, they must bow to Rome in all major instances.
Bladensburg’s St. Luke’s Church renounced Anglican ties in favor of the international organization because of so-called “unity;” the real reasons have more to do with homosexuality and ordaining women: Washington voted to call its first female Episcopal bishop in history. Mariann Edgar Budde will succeed John Bryan Chane in November; he has been a forceful advocate of gay marriage.
But the church they’ve chosen has never been homogenous, particularly since Latin was abolished as the only sanctioned language for the Mass – a legacy of Vatican II councils. Its cleavage remarkably resembles the faith they voted to leave. A substantial majority of world Christianity has abandoned all credence in religion.
Frederick is a remarkable exception, mainly because of huge influx of immigrants, domestic and foreign. Latinos traditionally have been more fervent than “Anglos.” Furthermore, since many take up jobs abandoned by natural-born Americans, black and whites, worship is the most advantageous occasion to gather and to meet their counterparts. Together with other immigrants, they seek in churches and synagogues ties to their new communities. (American Muslims are inextricably bonded by Islam; widespread bigotry glues them to mosques. In Egypt, I learned they were like most modern peoples, abandoning or adhering to their faith.)
In more cosmopolitan societies, parish buildings – including schools – are frequently abandoned because of disappearing people. Those who don’t move are forced to other facilities because of the millions and millions paid out to sexual abuse victims. Their abusers were absolved in the Catholic bishops’ research; so they say. The mitred heads are as guilty as any other public official – appointed or elected – of hypocrisy; their assumed piety makes it more obvious.
Vatican corruption and less-than-holy acts led to early centuries of attempts at reformation highlighted by the split into Roman and Orthodox branches. Other attempts in Western Europe had sputtered out. In the wake of Alexander VI – the Borgia pope fathered a number of children by two mistresses. Augustinian monk Martin Luther pinned to a cathedral door his complaints against the current Curia; twelve years later Henry VIII removed the church in England from the Vatican domain.
St. Luke’s vote to submit to papal rule is mistakenly referred to a “return” or “rejoining.” The Bladensburg parish was founded by the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, a province of the Anglican Church, started by the English king, once dubbed by the Vatican “Defender of the Faith.”
While many Catholics adhere to a personal vision, their branch of Christianity continues to tear itself apart, as in the instance of the American bishops solemnly proclaiming the latest worldwide scandal originated in the sexual revolution, which many nations never underwent.