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Thread: The Catholic Church Dilemma

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
    May 2003
    Northwestern Ohio

    The Catholic Church Dilemma

    Although no longer a practicing Catholic, this Bear grew up as a Catholic. I attended grades one (1) through six (6) at Gesu Catholic School, in Toledo.
    (Toledo has a pretty high Catholic population......probably owing to all the immigrant familes the came to the area in the late 1800's and early 1900's.)

    The Catholc Church is facing some interesting dilemmas.

    The health of the pope. Even the most casual observer can see that the pope doesn't have much time left. Like it or not, the person who sits in that position has an incredible influence on politics in the world. It will be interesting to follow this story as it progresses and to see what type of person becomes the next pope.

    The ongoing crisis concerning priests and sex. When I was a young Bear we all made jokes about the priests and the nuns....."doing it". We thought that they were just jokes.

    Here in Toledo, a nun was murdered back in the 1980's and a Catholic priest was just charged with that murder (within the last year). The trial hasn't started yet but the local newspaper is reporting that other priests and Catholic lay people are being investigated. There is hinting that during the time of the nun's murder there were "cult" activities involving children, priests, sex, abandoned houses, and all kinds of other weird stuff.

    Many Catholic dioceses are in financial trouble. Using Toledo as an example, the large Northwestern Ohio (Toledo) Diocese is in the midst of closing numerous churches and schools. Declining church rolls, declining school enrollment (except for some very very populat bigger schools).....these are having big effects.

    The national news has indicated that the same thing is going on in places such as New York City.

    Any thoughts from Cyburbians.......Cyburbian Catholics.......?

    Occupy Cyburbia!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
    Dec 2001
    West Valley, AZ
    The Catholic Chruch is defienenlty in flux. It seems that the real problem with a lot of parishes isn't lack of parishiners, but it is with lack of priests and adequate operating funds. I'll bet there's been a lot more corruption regarding church funds than anyone expects. My parents parish has a membership of over 1,000...maybe as much as 1,500 and they are closing because of money mismangment and lack of priests.

    With JP II nearing the end of his life, I fear that the new pope will be draconian and end up hurting the catholic church in his attempt to force "proper" reinvention of it's structure, values, and policies.

    The clout the catholic church once had has been nearly dissolved. Priests are no longer considered infallible pillars of the community and are succeptable to bribary, molestation, and sin.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
    Apr 2002
    I grew up Catholic, but want nothing to do with it anymore. The church's leadership is so inflexible and arrogant. They feel that as a 2,000 year old institution this sex scandal will just a footnote in their history. I don't think they take this seriously enough at all. Their long practice of shuttling paedophile priests from parish to parish is something that have to seriously apologize for.

    Why are they still telling African communities with high HIV rates that condom use is immoral? That makes me sick. The ought to take some leadership and realize that they do have a large prescence and could be a force for good. Instead they just stick to their old positions and don't budge.

    I think priests should be able to marry like in Protestant churches and women and gays should be consecreated... but none of that is happening. There was a really funny headline in the New York Times last year about the priest sex scandal..."Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers."

  4. #4
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Apr 2003
    Trying to get out of the icebox....
    I have been Catholic for a few years now. I took the RCIA classes over a one-year time, and now I am very active in my church as a life teen core member.

    Bear, you also have some very good concerns.

    Have you tried to go to other catholic churches? I know that when I moved to PA, I went to a new church every weekend for 2 months before I found one I liked. Now I am looking at changing churches after the end of the life teen program here because I don't like the look or feel of my church, and it does not sound like it will get any better.

    To answer your questions

    1) JP2 is a good man, but I agree that his health is causing concerns. I do however think that once he does die, and a new pope is chosen, he will be charged with bringing the church back together, and it will be a time of change. As it is, many great things have happened since JP took the job, considering changes in the church, and bring family back into the church.
    2) The sex scandal is a horrible thing. I think that any priest who has done this should not be allowed to be a priest anymore and should go to jail for the rest of their lives… if not worse. I do think that in the past few years, the church’s new approach has been a good thing. Once a priest is accused of any wrong doing, immediately he is removed from his position until the investigation is finalized. This is not only for those who commit the act, but also for those who know about it and don’t do anything about it. If they are found guilty of their crimes, their status is removed, and they are face any legal punishment brought to them by the courts.
    3) For the issue of funding and diocesan financial stability, if you find a church that you connect with, help out any way that you can. Some churches are not going to make it, but those who have a lot of people attend on a regular basis, and also contribute in time, talent, or treasure will succeed.

    I would suggest contacting someone at the diocesan office and ask to make an appointment speak with the bishop. Inform him of your concerns, and find out what steps are being done to address them. If that does not help, then if it were me, I would look for another church.

    Personally, I think that priest should be permitted to marry. I hope that some of the aspects “De Vinci Code” was true and that Jesus was married because then he would truly be fully man, and fully God.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Floridays's avatar
    Jul 2002
    South FL
    I was also raised Catholic and even have an aunt who's a nun to prove it!

    Although I am no longer active in the church, it seems to me that the decline of the Catholic church as a huge powerhouse is a gradual result of the Church's refusal to re-examine some of its tenets which have been affected by lots of societal changes.

    1. Pro-life or Pro-choice. Although I am pro-choice, I also am against using abortion as birth control. I don't like the church's lack of flexibility on this issue.
    2. Divorce. As a "divorced Catholic," I can tell you that there is still a strong stigma attached with the title. I never felt truly comfortable in the church since then.
    3. Bad press. As soon as 1 alleged misconduct was made against a priest/nun, the Church needed to begin a huge PR campaign about this topic. Now there are examples all over the US and the church isn't doing anything viable about it that I can tell.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Achernar's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Cambridge MA USA
    I was Catholic until they told me it was sinful to support same-sex civil marriage. In high school, I had a teacher who was a married, ex-Episcopalian priest who'd converted to Catholicism and was trying to be appointed a Catholic priest (one exception they make which allows for married priests), for something like eight years. He said that the ministry shortage could be solved overnight if they allowed married priests. This is because there are a huge number of men who had left the priesthood to get married, and would gladly return if they were allowed. They could also allow women priests, but of course that won't happen. At any rate, it's not hard to argue that the problems listed in the OP are due to the church's unwillingness to change, as Floridays says.

  7. #7
    I consider myself to be a strong Catholic, but can't disagree with any of the points raised. I donno.... guess you just have to have faith and pray.

  8. #8
    There was an interesting article in Time recently about the influx of hsipanics, latinos, and relocated northern Catholics and the revitalization of the Catholic Church in the south. Whereas most northern and mid-western Catholics would be very uncomfortable with it, southern Catholics are now practicing a much more conservative from of Catholicism that even includes "witnessing". I'll try to find a link to the sotry because it was a good examination of the Catholic church in a time of flux -- as many of you noted above.

    Although I grew up Lutheran (a Catholic-Lite religion, IMO), I married a Catholic and my children are baptized Catholic. My son is currently going through first communion classes. We attend the oldest congregation in the city (there are three, total) and I enjoy the parish priest, the parishioners, and the magnificent 152-yr old church. It is truly a "laid-back" Catholicism. So I was quiet surprised when I spoke with an architect friend that attends one of the other city parishes and he told me that they have begun "witnessing" and have been for a year or so.

    I have always been uncomfortable with outward displays of spirituality and hope that "witnessing"/"proselytizing" doesn't come to my family's parish. I enjoy the quieter, introspective from of traditional Catholicism.

    Disclaimer: In my youth I was rabidly anti-Catholic, but it had more to do with growing up across from a catholic school, a certain nun, and whiffle ball. Let's leave it at that.
    Je suis Charlie

  9. #9
    witnessing = ???

  10. #10
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
    May 2003
    City of Low Low Wages!
    Here are my thoughts.

    1). John Paul II is a good man, but I don't think he's been a good Pope. He forced the church into a backward-looking stance exactly when it was most important that it be looking forward. He's fostered fundementalism with, for example, the personal prelature he gave to Opus Dei. He's failed to address global problems such as falling vocations, secularization of Europe, and the rise of Evangelicalism in Hispanic countries. He's been firmly against essential reforms like a change in the abovementioned teaching on contraceptives (in light of the spread of AIDS). And he's killed the structural reforms promoted by Vatican II that promised to have made a more relevant and responsive church.

    There's no crisis in his death. The church has had *many* Popes die in its history. But the Cardnials have their work cut out for them finding a Pope that can truely lead the church into the 21st century and capture the opportunities that this Pope has squandered.

    2). The "sex-abuse" crisis is not something that should concern the Vatican. I'm sorry, I know it's important to Catholics in America, but with very few exceptions, it is not a global problem. The American Catholic Church has long been the bastard child of the global Community of Believers anyway. It's a minority Catholic church in majority Protestant country that's been having trouble finding itself for pretty much as long as its been here.

    In America, the sex scandal is very important. But mainly because it's been unfairly construed as a Catholic problem. In fact, rates of sex abuse among Catholic clergy are no higher than among Protestant church leaders and they're lower than those among secular child care workers. So the question of why Catholics are being targeted in a manner leaders of other faiths aren't is a very important question. One that needs to be answered if the ACC is going to put it behind it.

    3). I think you overstate the financial problem for the Church. In general, all of the financial problems stem from the sex abuse problem. In some European countries and Canada, falling church attendence and donations are causing financial problems for the church in those countries, but that's not the case here. Where church attendence does compel closings, it's usually in declining neighborhoods, or ones that have switched from a Catholic poplulation to one that's predominatly not Catholic.

    The decline in school enrolment speaks, I believe, to a much more grave problem for the ACC: the decline of the Catholic community in America. Catholicism in America has gone from being a very close-knit community-based religion centered around the local parish, to being basically another flavor of Protestantism, but with more rituals.

    So of course, Catholic parents don't see the significance of giving their kids Catholic educations so they send them to the secular public schools. In many parts of the country, kids don't get a good Catholic education at the Catholic schools anyway because the've become nothing more than a private substitute for a substandard public system, full of wealthy Protestant kids and secularized for their benefit.

    So for the global Catholic Church is in transition, but it's hardly in crisis. The next Pope could very well be one of the most important Popes in Catholic history, so let us pray that he's up to it. The American Catholic Church is in crisis. But it's not a crisis of sex abuse, that's just a small part of it. The real crisis is the breakdown of the Catholic community. And I don't know if that's a problem they'll be able to solve.

  11. #11
    Jan 2003
    Santiago, Chile
    Well, I'm not a catholic (nor a member of any religion) but I do attend to a catholic university.I must say at first I was a bit scared of going there because I've had several catholics try to convert me in the past, but after a year I must say that beyond the fact that there's a chapel on campus and I get to see some cute nuns, and that there's a monolith with jesus on top at the entrance, and that there are crosses in most classrooms, you can barely tell it's catholic, by the attitude of the people and teachers... maybe it's just my area.. (Yes... apparently all geographers are going straight to hell)
    So is the Catholic church in crisis... IMHO, no way. The pope is old and weak, yes; but once he dies/resigns there WILL be another one.
    Sex scandals involving minors... while here in Chile most scandals involve catholic priests (and sadly senators), I believe that all religions are not inmune to the problem.

    Financial problems in the chilean catholic church depend of the parishes, some are rolling in the riches, others are falling appart, and it obviously depend where they're located and what people go there. Most homeless shelters that depend from the catholic church also aren't in great financial health.

    Sort of OT: Michealskis... good to know you're open to the possibility that jesus was married... and had children.
    Let's hope the Catholic church stops being so retrograde and starts some modrenizations and adapts to the current times, things that don't evolve die, take that dinosaurs!

  12. #12
    I think Greenscapist summed up my attitude towards the Catholic Church.

    They are so far removed from today's society that they are becoming more and more irrelevant with each passing decade. The church is sexist. There is no arguing otheriwse. Why would I want to participate in an institution that doesn’t even put women on equal ground as men?

    The fact that priests cannot marry is a joke. You would have no shortage of priests if you dropped the rules about not being married. The desire for companionship and love is inherent in everyone something that people should not be deprived of because of some antiquated tradition.

    The notion of the pope is also becoming antiquated. There should be a mandatory retirement when they reach a certain age. The fact that this guy who is so old that he can barely mumble out a sentence is still the functioning leader of Catholics worldwide is absurd.
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  13. #13

    Lasped Catholic

    I grew up Catholic, went to Sunday school faithfully. I stopped being active long time ago. I did go a Catholic School to get my graduate degree in planning. I think the church has lost its relavence in today's society. It still acts like its the dark ages and it has to be the keeper of civilization.

    I believe some of the philosphies are just out of date, the whole contraceptive thing and abortion are just old ideas that are bad, period. Priests should be able to marry. IF you read a little history, women were very active in the Church at its inception. Also there is nothing in the bible that says Mary Magedline was a prostitute. It is all a legend started by the Church to surpress woman. I am sad that the Church seems to be headed in the same direction. The Pope is too old to change anything and he didn't appear to be inclined to change some fundamental things that need to change. I will always be a lasped Catholic. I think they have such a good message and can do great things if only they were more contemporary.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North
    Many Catholic dioceses are in financial trouble. Using Toledo as an example, the large Northwestern Ohio (Toledo) Diocese is in the midst of closing numerous churches and schools. Declining church rolls, declining school enrollment (except for some very very populat bigger schools).....these are having big effects.

    The national news has indicated that the same thing is going on in places such as New York City.

    Any thoughts from Cyburbians.......Cyburbian Catholics.......?

    What you see in the Toledo Diocese is the rich, and powerful churches (such as St. Joseph's in Sylvania and St. Patricks of Heatherdowns) thriving at the expense of the poorer parishes, which are rapidly losing membership. (It’s a microcosm of the larger crisis of urban sprawl: The rich and heavily subsidized suburbs growing at the expense of the rapidly depopulating central city).

    To me, the Diocese's policy of closing of the poorer parishes and schools, and propping up the suburban properties, flies in the face of everything the Christian doctorine is supposed to convey.

    St. Joseph's, arguably the most rich and powerful parish in the entire diocese, has spent millions constructing overblown buildings and expanded parking. The church seems Hellbent on destroying the urban fabric around them. The neighborhood that once shared the block has been largely destroyed, replaced by a sea of asphalt. All around the church are endless parking lots - storage depots for their rich suburbanite parishioners who park their SUVs there on Sunday so they can pretend to worship God after worshipping the almighty dollar all week.

    Just last year St. Joseph’s compromised the integrity of one of the most important historic properties in the Maumee Valley - the Lathrop House, which was an underground railroad stop. St. Joseph's, which owned the building, threatened to demolish it for parking and finally agreed to move it but only after outrage from local historic preservation and African-American activist groups. But moving it still compromised its integrity because it was the basement of the house and its relationship to a nearby ravine that were most important. The basement was where the runaway slaves allegedly hid before taking off to Canada.

    The City of Sylvania, in a rare act of trying to save it's heritage, tried to take the property and keep it where it was, but lost in a referendum in which the rich and powerful Sylvania voting block, backed by a powerful developer, came out on the side of the church. The City ended up being sued for attorney costs on behalf on the church.

    St. Joseph's action is one of the most blatant cases of cultural vandalism ever to take place in Toledo. But the parishioners who supported the church are just as corrupt and hypocritical.

    The whole affair makes me ashamed to call myself Catholic.
    Last edited by Super Amputee Cat; 22 Feb 2005 at 4:47 PM.

  15. #15
    I'm not a Catholic, nor have much experience of it, being raised in the UK with its C of E/Anglican environment. However, I remember seeing that priests were allowed to marry for a very long time by the early Catholic church. 'Celibacy' (i.e. not marrying) was brought in around the Norman period (11th Century) but celibacy in the sense of no sex wasn't really imposed until the Protestant versions of christianity started to appear (16th Century?), forcing the Catholic Church to emphasise the difference. In those 500 ish years, it was very common for priests to have children and even recognised 'common law' wives/long term lovers. They were often recognised by the parish, the country and some times the Church. The Archbishopric of Lincoln in England was effectively hereditary over 3 generations IIRC, although there were other bishops in between, to allow for age and experience.

    Also, there are apparently "many married priests of other (Oriental) rites which are in union with Rome. These churches – a very obvious and flourishing example is the Ukrainian Catholic Church – have always had a married clergy, only the episcopate being reserved to the unmarried (in practice, monks)." seehttp://www.hullp.demon.co.uk/SacredH...ct29th2000.htm

    In the end, I don't suppose it matters what an individual does, provided that they do the best they can and harm no one (or as close as possible). However, as a Church, if the Catholics allow priests to marry/form long-term relationships again, I suppose there should be some way of making sure that the priests are entering these relationships with the best of intentions, if only for image's sake.
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  16. #16
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
    May 2003
    City of Low Low Wages!
    That's not entirely correct. There has been tradition of celibacy in the church since 300 AD, although it was not strongly enforced or implemented in the whole domain until the 11th century with the Clunic reforms. The purpose was to end the practice of bishops passing church titles down to their sons. The idea was to make the church non-hereditary (unlike the nobility and the peasantry). People became priests, they weren't born into the priesthood.

    By the time of the reformation, the medieval church had become very corrupt. So while Celibacy was the law of the land, it was the norm for clergy to have mistresses and bastard children. To curb such abuses, the Council of Trent reformed the church with very tight strictures and control. Trent was called to answer, to a large part, the parts of Luther's 95 theses that the Church believed had merit. Celibacy wasn't used to emphasize the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism, but rather because the church still believed that it was essential and they wanted to end the hypocritical flaunting of it that had compelled the reformation.

    Even still, the institution of celibacy became a favorite target for Protestant anti-Catholics (because it was often seen by them as being an attempt by the Church to make its clergy appear more pious than theirs) and rumors of abuse (often also involving satanic rituals) persisted for centuries, fueled by the vaguest of evidence.

  17. #17
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
    Oct 2001
    Middle of a Dusty Street
    Need an image change...

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