October 21, 2005

Faith that dares to speak out is loving criticism

Catholic Explorer


In the Chinese printed language, the sign for the word “crisis” can be used almost interchangeably for the word “opportunity.” However, people seldom make the connection between the two, especially here in the United States. Few would disagree, however, that the Catholic Church in America, especially at the beginning of this 21st century, is undergoing its worse crisis since the founding of our republic. And this evaluation would include the assaults on the church in the colonial period, later in the time of mass Catholic migration from Europe and the Know-Nothing crisis of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The only difference today seems to be that Catholics themselves, especially some members of the hierarchy and clergy, are supplying the scandals which bewilder both the Catholic faithful and others not of our religious persuasion. It seems that many of the ages-old accusations against the church that Catholics have been denying are now being proven by some Catholics themselves. The media and other sources have sent the Catholic faithful reeling in confusion and disbelief.

In an attempt to make some sense of the “crisis” as an “opportunity,” Msgr. Donald Cozzens has written a book that is both challenging and courageous in what the future of the Catholic Church, both in America and Rome, may be to heal the wounds inflicted and how they may be healed.

“At the dawn of the twenty-first century,” writes Cozzens, “the Catholic Church is arguably the last feudal system in the West. Once the feudal structure of the church is recognized, the bishops’ response to the clergy abuse crisis comes into focus. Bishops and other church authorities reacted to the scandal the only way their feudal culture allowed—with secrecy, denial, and a no-holds-barred effort to protect the reputation, authority, and resources of the institution. While tragic—and in many cases reprehensible—their response was consistent with the way feudal systems function.”

Posted by kshaw at October 21, 2005 08:48 AM