Since the summer, I haven't written about this much, because it felt increasingly inappropriate to bring such deeply private issues into the public arena. But like many others, this past year has been a watershed for me. The combination of the cover-up of sexual abuse and the extremity of the language used against gay people by the Vatican has made it impossible for me to go back inside a church. I do believe that something is rotten in the heart of the hierarchy, that it is bound up in sexual panic and a conflicted homosexual subculture that is a deep part of the Catholic Church. Until that is dealt with, until a new dynamic of hope and honesty replaces denial and authoritarianism, I cannot go on. Am I still a Catholic? I don't think I can call myself such publicly any more. Privately, I think I always will be in some place in my heart. But I cannot enable the vicious cycle of failure and scapegoating that now animates what amounts to the leadership. And I do not believe, as David Brooks seems to, that the legacy of this pope can be fairly judged without taking into acccount the devastation to Catholicism that has occurred in the West under his watch. He has presided over a collapse in the Church's home-base in Europe, and, I believe, has precipitated the death-throes of the Church in America. No doubt many believe that this is the price for fidelity to the Church's medieval sexual ethics. I beg to differ.
Interesting. Some quick points. It's odd to me that he says that his exodus is because of the failure of Church leadership, rather than his fundamental disagreement with what the Church teaches on sexuality. I don't understand why it's so difficult for him to say, "I don't believe this, and I see that they're not going to change, so I'm not Catholic anymore." Why is that he wants to blame someone else for his departure rather than take responsibility for his own beliefs?
And he blames the Pope for the decline of the Church in Europe, a decline which really, if you want to argue about it, began with the French Revolution and the vigorous secularist movements of the 19th century, or even with the Reformation? What kind of stunted agenda-seeking historical viewpoint is that?
There are legitimate arguments to be made on the complex issue of the Pope's leadership, but this is not one of them.
Anyway, it's too bad, but it's not unexpected. Here's what saddens me the most with Sullivan and others...where's Jesus? I'm not saying that if you focus on Christ, you'll automatically and every time wind up okay with Rome - we all have free will and different experiences and viewpoints that make that unlikely, to say the least. But when we struggle with faith - the Christian faith - I think the only sensible thing is to go back to the Gospels and to prayer and the re-connect with Christ. A faith that is based on the efficacy of leaders is not faith, I'm sorry to say. Certainly, our relationship with Jesus is mediated a thousand different ways from Sunday, but still, what I don't see here and in so many other discussions is the question of faith in Jesus - and where that takes us?