Op-Ed

Crises in Catholic Church, government free us for revolution

A man dressed as the Virgin Mary takes part in a protest against child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, during Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland on Sunday.
A man dressed as the Virgin Mary takes part in a protest against child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, during Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland on Sunday. The New York Times

Ironically, I felt some relief at the recent horrendous revelations about the 300 Pennsylvania priests who sexually victimized more than 1,000 children and young people over the last 70 years.

The relief was similar to what I feel each day as President Donald Trump tweets his lies and implements retrograde policies to restore America to its good old days before the post-World II achievements of blacks, women, gays, immigrants and social justice advocates.

I mean, the veils have finally been pulled back in both politics and religion. In fact, the political scandals of Trump mirror and illuminate those of the Catholic Church.

For starters, the embrace of Trump reveals that many in the Republican Party are corrupt: enriching themselves at public expense; practicing nepotism; breaking laws, dishonoring the Constitution, caring only about their rich donors. They don’t even want us to vote.

We’re living in something like the Soviet Union, where nothing our current government says can be taken at face value. It frees us up to work for outright revolution.

It’s the same with the Catholic Church.

The widespread pedophilia among the clergy reveals that the faithful have been duped by yet another group we were falsely taught to trust — this one not representing “the people,” but God himself. All priests and former priests are now under suspicion, even though the vast majority are innocent of the crimes.

But the hell of it is that both the guilty and innocent are the very teachers whose principal moral obsessions have suspiciously centered on sexual morality.

They’ve all worried us about impure thoughts, pornography, masturbation, homosexuality, petting, fornication, adultery, birth control, abortion and divorce. These sex-obsessed “celibates” have even advised couples about when to have sexual intercourse or not. What’s up with preoccupations like those?

And could we have been more naively duped?

Nonetheless, we shouldn’t be discouraged. I mean, realizing our deception frees us up, doesn’t it? Just as in the field of politics, it can help liberate us from the childish beliefs that hypocritical liars have foisted upon us. What can we believe that either our politicians or our clergy have told us about anything?

It’s all up for grabs now. We have to think for ourselves, not only about our presidents, but even about God.

And that’s true freedom; it’s a call to grow up and force our institutions to change.

Practically speaking, what citizens should do about the deceptions of Trump and the GOP is simple: Vote the Republicans out.

It’s a bit more difficult for the deceived within the church. But here are some suggestions:

▪ Admit that the Catholic Church has been generally corrupted by the pedophilia scandal.

▪ Recognize that the priesthood — along with bishops, cardinals, and the papacy — itself have been perverted.

▪ Boycott the church until it calls a General Council to institute reforms from the top down.

▪ Demand that the council reevaluate church teachings on sex and abolish the requirement of celibacy for Catholic priests.

▪ Insist not only on the ordination of women, but their empowerment to replace men in roles of church governance, including at the highest level.

It is undeniable that the lies of Trump and the outrages of our clergy have initiated a new era in our country and in the world.

That shouldn’t depress us. Rather, it should inspire us to completely throw off the old and embrace new possibilities politically, and in the realm of faith.

Reach Mike Rivage-Seul, a former Catholic priest and retired Berea College professor, at Mike_Rivage-Seul @berea.edu.

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