Friday, January 17, 2003

I like this column by Andrew Greeley:

I'm worried about our church, the woman said to me; do you think it will survive? We've made it through the barbarians and the Reformation and the French Revolution, I said. I think we'll get through this mess, though this time the enemies are all from within.

Yes, she replied, but the priests in my parish don't want the laity around, they've never said a word about the sex-abuse scandal, and the homilies and liturgies are terrible. I read in the paper about people who say they're not going to church anymore. I wonder why I'm still going. Fortunately, she's the stubborn kind who won't let the idiots drive her away from a heritage she prizes.

Unfortunately, the situation my friend described is all too typical. Tied up in the cinctures of clerical culture, many priests still don't get the importance of the sex-abuse scandal and apparently will never understand how angry their laity are at bad homilies, dull liturgy and insensitive and unprofessional ministerial care.

If one studies the data from the recent Los Angeles Times survey of the priesthood, one is struck by the responses of priests to the sex- abuse crisis. They blame the bishops, the lawyers, the victims and the media. But they wash their hands of all personal responsibility. The majority think that it is not the worst crisis in the history of the American church (one wonders what was) and that many of the charges are not true. They are still demonizing the victims and denying the truth of the charges.

In fact, many priests knew about what was happening and did not lift their voices to stop it. True to the demands of clerical culture, they blinded themselves to the obvious facts and still do. They echo the cry of Cardinal Bernard Law that the police and the psychiatrist had cleared the accused.

My only quibble is with Greeley's use of "boredom" and "uninteresting" as a paradigm. Those are dangerous words, a sell-out, however unintentional, to the culture of entertainment. Let's replace "boring" with "not prayerful" and call it ourselves in agreement.

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