Beyond Damage Control and Church Structural Reform: Theology Supports Sex/Power Abuse?

There was a time when damage control worked well for the church. That time is no more!

Now, damage control like sincere apologies, policy changes and even sacrificial scapegoats fail to convince Catholics and others that the Church is determined enough to change its fundamental “modus operandi”.

Fortunately for the church, Catholic consciousness has been raised by the Spirit of Vatican II to expect more than damage control. This new consciousness cannot be rolled back any more than a born child can go back into it’s mother’s womb.

Those who talk about the need for structural change in the church rarely, if ever, recognize the origin of church sex/power abuse in theology itself.

In the past several decades, Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and now Pope Francis have adamantly steered the church away from the deep theological reform that Vatican II set in motion. Their unwavering resistance to deep theological reform unwittingly supported the clerical power abuse and cover-up that we find today in the global Church. Continuation of this resistance will only lead to more virulent and deeply-entrenched power abuse cover-ups.

If the connection between theology and power abuse is not recognized now, then any policy and structural changes enacted by the Church will be worthless. As empowered as the laity will appear to be after all new policy/structural changes are in place, laity will NOT be allowed to cross the boundaries of “religious freedom” around well-guarded Church doctrine.

If Augustine could assimilate Roman ideals into Christian theology, surely by this time, Catholicism is capable of assimilating the best of modern findings in scientific, philosophical and theological research. Vatican II brought attention to the need for updating and adapting the Church to new conditions. With the extent, horror and gravity of the sex/power abuse scandals in the Church, one would think that the Church would wake up to Vatican II and its focus on the many momentous new questions that modern society must deal with in terms of human survival, not to mention the survival of its religious institutions.

The sex/power abuse scandals bring into question the domination model of traditional Biblical understanding and its application in doctrine. The domination interpretation of power in Scripture has been seriously questioned by many post-Vatican II theologians.  Even so, the institutional teaching authority of the Church has opposed little, if any, change in this ancient theology of power.

NOW IS THE TIME to re-evaluate theology that sanctifies and sacramentalizes domination. We must ask ourselves: Should modern scriptural interpretation be supporting the understanding of God as the One Who Desires Power Over Us?…justifying the way that we desire power over the earth and each other?

5 thoughts on “Beyond Damage Control and Church Structural Reform: Theology Supports Sex/Power Abuse?

  1. Having also considered the situation, I want to stress that I believe the We the People are wasting our time. The institutionalised ‘gradualism’ of our clerics can be measured against the ticking time-bomb that is our Church – and We the People are actually aiding-and-abetting the implosion/explosion by not taking our God-Given role as seriously as is needed. We may NEVER have such a golden opportunity to ‘save’ our Church and we will actually have contributed to its downfall by continuing to fund the nefarious activities of our clerics. (It is almost inevitable that very time I accept communion, I shudder inwardly at the thought that the fingers handing me our Lord might be the very fingers that played their part in abusing a minor —– or a nun.)

    The time has now come for DRASTIC action in the form of a financial boycott. What exactly have all the years of talking/pleading yielded? Perhaps someone can publish a list of REAL progress that has passed me by?

    My email to Rene two days ago:
    “A South African voice from the past – but one that has followed CCRI over the years!

    It seems the lid on the next Catholic cleric sexual abuse scandal is now about to blow, after simmering for many years – this time relating to rape and resultant pregnant nuns.

    How many years is it now that CCRI (and other similar organisations) have been trying to convince the ‘powers-that-be’ that the laity should be more involved in Church affairs etc., etc.? And how far has that actually got us?

    I firmly believe that until the laity actually DOES .something drastic (in place of just expressing our concerns and holding synods that are largely disregarded) we will continue to be ignored by the ‘Powers-that-Be’.

    Has the time not come where we, the laity, should withhold our financial support? A financial boycott will eventually hit them where it hurts most – their well-lined pockets, rotund bellies, fine robes and comfortable existence. Of course, there are possibly hidden reserves to tide them over for a while, but eventually they will get the message.

    My heart goes out to the many wonderful clerics who are real shepherds ‘who smell of their flock’ but who are tainted by their ‘brothers’ who cannot control their depravity.

    Over to you Rene; your thoughts will be appreciated.”

    Geoff Harris


    1. Geoff from South Africa, we wholeheartedly agree with you that” We the People are wasting our time [with the] institutionalised ‘gradualism’ [that is not only NOT WORKING but is functioning as]..the ticking time-bomb that is our Church – and We the People…aiding-and-abetting the implosion/explosion…”

      You ask, “What exactly have all the years of talking/pleading yielded?” Perhaps someone can publish a list of REAL progress that has passed me by?” The “progress” has been a take-over of the Church by those who bailed the Church out of the Vatican Bank scandal in the 1980’s, the group which in 1982 received and utilized its “papal prelature” status/approbation to strategize, finance and move the Church to its own most conservative interpretation of Vatican II.

      For articles on the Opus/Evangelical Catholic influence in the Church today: Check out Heidi Schlumpf 3-part FOCUS series in National Catholic Reporter

      On what we can do about this take-over, you might want also want to read;
      “Reform Roman Catholicism, A Rational Alternative?” <a href=";

      A Whole New Branch of Catholicism?

      Thanks for your comment, Geoff! What you find on might just be the next step to your “DRASTIC action in the form of a financial boycott. Perhaps the “many wonderful clerics…”who smell of their flock” might take part in promoting a Vatican II Rite as part of the Catholic tradition of diverse rites in the Church.


    2. “How many years is it now that CCRI (and other similar organisations) have been trying to convince the ‘powers-that-be’ that the laity should be more involved in Church affairs etc., etc.? And how far has that actually got us?” This far…since Vatican II gave the Church a chance for clergy and laity to work together as equals…an experience that brought creative life to the Church for at least a decade until fear of change took the reins.
      Today all sorts of tried and true marketing and hospitality gimmicks are being employed to get folks back in the pews. The money has dwindled and will continue to do so. As long as we do not allow the Holy Spirit to breathe in the Church in every way it chooses, the buildings will crumble whether clergy or laity rule the Church.


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