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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/25/10

What is Wrong with the Catholic Church?

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While this sexual abuse scandal now decades (centuries?) old is admittedly the bread and butter for authors like myself that deconstruct and debunk organized religions (not just Christianity), it is hard to comprehend the lack of compassion for the victims. As Orwell put it, saints must be considered guilty before innocent. This is a proper and useful attitude in order to defend a vulnerable society from the posturing of charlatans. In this case, a good translation of that principle is simply this: Give me a break, the Pope will live.

We are talking about decades (centuries!) of abuse of children; but the officials of a centralized organization dedicated not to Wall Street, not to Big Oil or Big Tobacco, but to the dissemination of an ethical system of living and, even more, invoke the name of a monotheistic god in the pursuit of that dissemination, are concerned about the Times coverage of the news. And if they scrounge and actually find an unfair thorn in their side, that means the forest can be ignored?

I was a monk in the swami order. In training I was told that if I was accused of misconduct by my superiors, I was not to defend myself, which is the narrow ego's reaction, but simply acknowledge it and affirm the effort to do better. Then, go back to my room and learn from the mistake some other monk in training apparently made AS IF I DID IT. I was too learn from good and bad examples, even if I was wrongfully accused of being one of the bad ones. I was to keep silent and get to the work of bettering myself because otherwise next time it might be me that makes the mistake. I was 19 years old.

Now this 1800 year old Church, claiming to be the universal house of the sole god of the human race, can't muster the bravery, courage, wisdom, and humility to simply STFU and get to the work of amending for serious crimes for which it actually is guilty?! And why? Because while as a monk I had the freedom to realize that by shutting my mouth and accepting blame, I, as in my sense of self (my soul, by western religion's lexicon), had nothing to lose and everything to spiritual gain in inner strength and fortitude, the Catholic Church identifies itself too much with its image and its buildings and its followers and its money and its power and so it only sees what it has to lose by failing to stage its petty and infantile defenses.

It is a like a tire manufacturer that fights the bad media its product has earned with faulty tires that blow at bumps in the road. I wouldn't blame the tire company because it isn't claiming to be anything but a tire manufacturer out to make a profit. It isn't claiming its tires will roll people straight to a god. But all the verbiage about the Church's necessary presence in the world to bring goodness goes out the window when nothing more than its bottom line is being threatened. God isn't in trouble here. Ethics aren't in danger. The only thing the Church should concern itself, just as I did as a monk, is exemplifying those ethics and that godly behavior. But these Church leaders behave not as pious ascetics but as businessmen.

And that's the point. If the Church wants to act like any other corporation instead of always treating itself like a humble monk ever in training before the Almighty, then that is how it needs to be approached by the public. And who doubts that if the Church actually were treated like such a company that didn't depend on the narrow identity of consumers like religions do, it would have gone out of business long ago? Why? Because when all is said and done it gives nothing to the human race that can't be had through avenues that do not require self-mystification, hagiographical accounts of saviors that have not historical basis, authoritarianism, abusive leaders, and incalculable divisiveness -- thereby countering the very ethical ideals it claims to espouse.

It mainly peddles the very narrow Catholic identity, and that, not humility or self-sacrifice or penitence, is what consistently lashes out when the Church is rightly exposed for its crimes against humanity.

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Sankara Saranam is a writer, philosopher, lecturer, and tireless proponent of pranayama, a technique of intuitive mysticism. He traveled extensively in India and Israel researching and writing on spiritual issues. His first book, Yoga and Judaism (more...)
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