Stop for a moment and read through Cardinal O’Malley’s statement about the McCarrick affair:

Here are some excerpts:

“While the Church in the United States has adopted a zero tolerance policy regarding the sexual abuse of minors by priests we must have clearer procedures for cases involving bishops. Transparent and consistent protocols are needed to provide justice for the victims and to adequately respond to the legitimate indignation of the community. The Church needs a strong and comprehensive policy to address bishops’ violations of the vows of celibacy in cases of the criminal abuse of minors and in cases involving adults.”


The Church needs to swiftly and decisively take action regarding these matters of critical importance. In every instance of claims made by victims of sexual abuse, whether criminal violations or the abuse of power, the primary concern must be for the victim, their family and their loved ones. The victims are to be commended for bringing to light their tragic experience and must be treated with respect and dignity.”


three actions are now required of the Church: a fair and rapid adjudication of these accusations; an assessment of the adequacy of our standards and policies in the Church at every level, and especially in the case of bishops; and communicating more clearly to the Catholic faithful and to all victims the process for reporting allegations against bishops and cardinals.

“Failure to take these actions will threaten and endanger the already weakened moral authority of the Church and can destroy the trust required for the Church to minister to Catholics and have a meaningful role in the wider civil society,”

Has anybody else noticed what is missing?

It’s something called “the Catholic faith.”

This is the sort of bureaucratic blather that is concocted by public relations consultants sitting around a table with lawyers and insurance men. This is the inoffensive newspeak loved by politicians–a press release which will smooth feathers and seem to reassure people. Note that nobody is actually taking personal responsibility to get anything done. Instead “the Church” must do this and that and the other.

But more important than a critique of this predictable bureaucratic blather, where is the passion and fire of the gospel? Where is any mention of sin, the hope of heaven, the fear of hell, the gift of forgiveness and the humility of penitence? Where is the anguish of Job, the anger of Jeremiah, the fire of Elijah and the pointed finger of John the Baptist?

Instead its all about potential lawsuits, protocols and policies, concerns, charters and confidential comments from lawyers and grim faced men in suits and briefcases behind the scenes advising how the “assets of the diocese can be protected.”

I thought perhaps a Catholic cardinals, when faced with the McCarrick in their midst might issue an anathema, call for public repentance and penance and remind us about millstones, necks and the depth of the seas.

My grumble is not that the responses will most likely not result in much action.

My grumble is that it is bureaucratic gobbledegook which typifies the language and actions we get from what I call the Church of Mammon.

“Mammon” is, of course, the term for the god of greed, but it also typifies the Way of the World–Man’s way rather than God’s way.

In other words, walking by sight, not by faith.

It seems to me that the institutional Catholic Church in America is increasingly the Church of Mammon.

The bishop is not the Reverend Father in God. He is the Chief Executive Officer of the Diocese of Mammon Inc.

His main consultants are the Chief Financial Officer, the lawyers and the insurance men.

Should there be a local faith initiative the insurance men step in with piles of paperwork, regulations and rules which stifle the project– putting it out of reach financially and dampen the enthusiasm of the local people who just wanted to do something beautiful for God. If they try to get financial assistance from the Diocese of Mammon Inc. for their soup kitchen, their youth work or their homeless shelter they find that “there isn’t enough in the budget to meet these requests.”

Don’t get me wrong. It is a good thing that the church is run professionally. It is a good thing that a business like approach is taken. Studies of demographics are helpful. Five year financial plans are no doubt a good thing. I am sure psychological studies of the profile of the typical Catholic in the pew  inform people, and consultants in religious motivations for financial giving with their hefty reports with pie charts, powerpoint presentations and spreadsheets are obviously very important for planners and those who love to meet and talk and plan when their next meeting will be.

But this is the way of the world. It is not the way of faith.

The way of faith is small. It is a mustard seed planted that grows by the gift of grace.

The way of faith is action not talk. Those who walk by faith not by sight get up out of the boat and walk on waves.

The get on their knees then roll up their sleeves and do what they can with what they have where they are.

The way of faith is Mother Teresa starting out with six former students going into the slums of Calcutta with a blackboard to teach kids to read.

It is an African American Protestant pastor in my part of town who operates “Church Without Walls”. On Sunday mornings he goes into the sleazy hotels that have become flophouses, whore houses and drug dens to bring the gospel and assistance to the people who need it right where they are.

It is Fr Damien saying, “Forget your sensible plan. I’ll go to the leper colony and stay there.”

Oh yes, by all means bring on your policies, your procedures, your charters, your pie charts and your five year plans.

But do not mistake them for the gospel.

By all means read the statements written by the lawyers, the insurance men and the public relations experts you have hired with our hard earned and faith donated money, but when you’re done talking about the policies and protocols and “firm action” and “zero tolerance” perhaps we might hear something about the tragedy of sin, the broken lives, the need for heartfelt repentance and the need to throw oneself onto the judgement of God trusting in his mercy.

Hilaire Belloc said “Every argument is a theological argument” and so it is with this debate.

My worry is that the underlying problem is the Chief Executive Officers of the Diocese of Mammon Inc. don’t really believe in the need for repentance.  I suspect long ago most of them have abandoned the idea that hell exists, and therefore the need for salvation from hell also doesn’t exist.

Long ago they abandoned the idea that the church was founded for the worship of God and the salvation of souls.

Instead they gradually started to believe that the church came about to establish social justice and make the world a better place, and Sunday worship was really just a pep rally to get the people to support the great cause.

And if that is all the church is for, then of course it should be run as a business.

What’s faith got to do with it?