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?

God’s Holy Refugees, Driven by the Search for Real

What of the Religious Refugees… fleeing theologies
… theologies that clang against the consciousness
 of this age’s sins and (w)holy wisdom?

To the Nones and Dones and those most nearly done,
the silence of the Holy One is deafeningly loud
…in theologies describing 
 a god so praise-starved and power-hungry
…that it demands our constant adulation and servile obedience
…in theologies describing an all knowing Big Father/Brother in the sky
 speaking scriptural words of love between the narcissistic lines.

What consciousness is this…
that drives us from the comfort of a sacred family
…wrapped in the solace of sweet hymns and select scriptures
so we not see and question those Words and stories
…strewn with images of such an ignoble and inglorious God?

Bereft of temple, church, synagogue or mosque,
where do we go to find a home?
Or is there even such a place?

Religious refugees driven far from safe homes we knew so long ago,
…the hymns we sang, the Scripture read, so comforting,
now crash as awkward phrases against what we “Now Know”.
“Now Know” not so stately as the holy architecture of theologies 
so long held bosom-close for comfort.

O Saints before us, who lost your faith in such Go(o)d nonsense…
Is there not something…anything, 
 other than the loss we know today?

Or is all search for the comfort of meaning and certainty 
 a useless Sisyphus task of rolling boulder uphill 
 …until it rolls back crushing us
…worn weak and weary in the futility of it all?

We go down into the pit of despair
…
 with you, O Saints who went there before us.
We have still the wisdom of your love and your courage
 to live in the not knowing,
…in the shatter-scatter pace of life’s ever-changing face 
 that re-assembles its appearance from
 …horror to grief to love and back again
…in cycles too quick to ponder or assimilate,
 …sometimes barraged in unremitting painful questions:
Why them? Why me? 
 …Why even ask why?

We refugees of theologies 
that answer questions of the past
 with answers from the further past..
 …some wisdom there buried
 under all the dust and shite, for certain.

Yet there is this tingling sense that
 wisdom buried under ages having passed, 
 yet still is with us now

for every change of time from one epoch to another
 had its pain of cracking through, 
 like a babe breaking out its mother’s womb
all tender and powerless, 
 …in need of succor and protection, 
 so like our new consciousness adapting…to its new place and time.

Let us have faith meanwhile, in each other,
 …in the everyday uncanonized saints of today and yesterday.
Not idolatrous faith, of course,
 but rather faith that nurtures love as it re-news life,
…as it makes life NEW again…
 Creation ongoing, ever-challenging us
…to go on loving…as best we can.

WHERE is the theology that can lead us
…in the way of this ever-adapting gypsy-like home-making faith?
WHERE is the theology sustaining
…a dynamic back-and-forth movement
 between the wisdom of the past
…and the present moment
…now challenging our consciousness 
 …to RISE UP and BE COUNTED.
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Painting “God’s Holy Refugees” by Consilia Karli, SFCC

Poem by Sister Lea, SFCC with Consilia Karli
https://RiteBeyondRome.com

 

 

 

 

 

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