Are they out to accelerate the destruction of what is left of the Catholic Church. An article in 2019 noted: “Gallup has previously reported that church attendance has dropped ore among Catholics than among Protestants. Consistent with this, the decline in church membership has been greater among Catholics. Twenty years ago, 76% of Catholics belonged to a church; now, 63% do.”
Actually, it is surprising that figure is not greater given the seemingly endless scandal among the priests and the ham-handed response of the bishops. Despite the horrid news of bishops knowing priests who sexually offended young boys rather than being drummed out of the priesthood were transferred to other places and their sins covered up, most Catholics remained faithful to the Church. Sadly, the scandal of priests abusing youngsters and bishops covering up their offenses spread from Boston throughout the United States and the world.
No country has seen a greater exodus from the Church than Ireland. There are interesting takes on why that happened. Here one author disagrees that it had anything to do with the scandals. “Because as long as Catholic Ireland is being maliciously depicted as one long abuse scandal, there is little prospect of lapsed Catholics being drawn once more to the Faith.” and here an author suggests the groundwork existed for the scandals: “With many admirable exceptions, the Church in Ireland was run for decades by a faithless, feckless, group of bluffers and charlatans. The inauthenticity of their prayer, of their music, of their preaching, and of their actions has driven generations to see the faith as inauthentic, bluffing, nonsense.”
An article by Father D’Arcy noted: “The Church played politics with the State. We controlled education, health, morality and most damaging of all, we expected the State’s laws to mirror Catholic morality. Religion became part of our oppression. Then along came the clerical abuse scandals. The hypocrisy of religion was uncovered; it dismantled both the power and the faith of Catholic Church within a few years.” Father Brian D’Arcy went on to say: “The best example of moribund clericalism is the institutional Catholic Church in Ireland. It’s even worse in the United States, but that’s for another day.” [For a discussion of clericalism see: “David Gibson “What is Clericalism? ” It has been defined as: “clericalism has come to mean a division between ordained church leaders—that such leaders have an exclusive society unto themselves—and the lay followers.”]
The Catholic Church in Ireland’s experience is worth noting in examining what is happening in the United States. Nothing points to the abstruseness of the Church leaders than the recent revelations about Msgr. Jeffrey D. Burrill, the general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In such position he “maintained significant influence over church policies and statements—including those dealing with reporting on sexual misconduct—that have an impact on the entire church.” He resigned from that position after it was disclosed he was most likely “regularly breaking his promise of celibacy” in sexual affairs with other men.
What is most inexplicable is how could he put himself in this situation knowing the scandals of the Church in America. The last mentioned article while speaking to his actions spends most of its time on condemning the way that his actions were reported as does other publications. See here and here.
It appears that many in the Church find satisfaction that there was no indication that Msgr. Burrill was involved with minors and only in consensual actions with adults. They fail to see his actions bring back to mind the hypocrisy of Church leaders. Is he still to remain a monsignor or priest having scandalized the Church while in a high position?
It was the clericalism of the past – the clerics protecting themselves from the rest of the Church members – that brought about the scandals and dismay. The more the bishops remain out of touch with the average church members the more the flock will flee. The Church must look to Ireland, get out of politics, and back to its basic role. As Christ said: “Render unto Caesar . . . “