A senior priest friend said to me last week, “I told the bishop we’re in a sixteenth century situation.”
I replied, “Yup, Every 500 years a painful purgation and then a renewal.”
It reminded me of the Tree of Gondor–the old kingdom was dead. The corrupt steward held the place of the rightful king. Then at the darkest hour, when the city seemed certain to fall to the marauding hordes of Mordor, the tree that seemed dead began to bud and flower again.
So it seems in the Catholic Church. In the midst of our long defeat, new buds will burst forth.
So now, at grass roots level the people are furious, hurt, betrayed and ready for action. At the episcopal level it is business as usual, relying on the insurance men, the PR companies, the fund raising money grubbers, the financial advisors and lawyers.
Meanwhile ordinary priests are already being spat on in public and called pedos. A young trainee Franciscan reports that when he took his seat on a plane the person next to him said, “How many kids do you rape this morning?”
So what can we look forward to in the months and years to come?
I’m not a prophet, but I can see a few possibilities on the horizon and I’ll start with the negatives first.
I reckon other states will follow the lead of Pennsylvania. Apparently the New York State Attorney General is planning an investigation and if stories about Albany and Buffalo are to be believed, the mess will be worse than Pennsylvania. Someone has predicted grimly about the publication of the Pennsylvania report, “One down. Forty nine to go.”
While we are all upset about the facts being released, it must also be admitted that the investigation in Pennsylvania does have the whiff of the witch hunt. Is Mr Shapiro planning a similar investigation of Protestant churches and public schools? I’m not saying this to play the victim, but to register the fact that we may be on the edge of a very long, very drawn out and very excruciating crisis in which slowly and inexorably state after state pulls up seventy years worth of Catholic crimes, cover ups, mismanagement and deceit.
Some predict that this may go to the national and international level with the Catholic Church leaders being accused of racketeering, fraud and who knows what else…
So we may need to be prepared for terrible headlines for a long time to come.
What is left of the liberal, mainstream Catholic institutions will crumble. The mainstream colleges and universities that have been only nominally Catholic for a long time now will shed their Catholic identity altogether and do so proudly.
Catholic charities like hospitals and independent schools will shed their Catholic names and identities. People will run for cover.
In the priesthood and the pews, those Catholics who were already only hanging on by their fingernails will let go. They’ll clear off–some for the Episcopalians or the Baptists, but most simply to the Mall, the golf course or the lake.
Cultural Catholics who were only Catholic because their grandfather was Italian? Most of them have already gone, and the ones who are left will scoot.
While it is true that there are notorious cases of conservatives being homosexual child abusers, it must be admitted that the general atmosphere of the lack of any sexual discipline is a phenomenon of the sexual revolution which happened at the same time as the rise of the modernist heresies in the Church. This form of Catholicism is now truly and utterly dead. It has no life in it. The smiling, fund raising, tolerant, liberal establishment form of Catholicism will forever be associated with the leering face of Theodore McCarrick.
As the New York investigation eventually comes out we’ll see the historic entrenchment of homosexuals like Spellman and his coterie. The smug, wealthy and powerful facade of Yankee Catholicism of the Northeast will be seen for what it is, and those who have wallowed in it will get out like rats from a sinking ship.
As the financial claims pile up the already crippled dioceses will close schools, sell properties and shift assets to pay off the victims. Bishops’ annual appeals will be dead in the water, and the money grubbing fund raising companies will run a mile rather than be the front men for the bishop and face the fury of the lay people.
So far the mainstream media, terrified of stepping into the LGBTQ minefield, have not given huge headlines to the crisis, but that may turn, and when it does we should be prepared for a major shift in public opinion against the Catholic Church.
Any respect non Catholics had will be gone and outright persecution both informal and formal may develop. This should not surprise us. The devil’s tactics have always been to first weaken the church through immorality and corruption, then when the crimes are revealed and morale is low, bring on the explicit persecution.
So that’s the bad news. What’s the good news?
The good news is that OMIGOSH, this purgation is going to make real Catholicism in America boom. Already across America Catholic men’s groups and men’s conferences have been quietly developing into a movement. Catholic laymen are going to rise up and take leadership. They are going to build strong families. They are going to re-build red blooded Catholic masculinity which will take the place of the lavender crowd. This will not be some sort of Catholic Rambo movement, but strong, holy, devoted and prayerful men who will help to re build Christ’s church.
They will be priests, but they will also be husbands and fathers, and with strong women they will build strong families.
The religious life will also be resurgent. Already vocations to the Dominicans and Benedictines are growing. Already more young men and women are seeing where the true battle lines are and are stepping up to the front line.
Parishes will thrive if they follow the Benedict option–building communities of obedience, stability and conversion of life. Little schools will thrive. As Dioceses crumble, parishes will grow. The faith will be local and the faith will be strong.
I have no fear for the future.
The purgation will be painful, but the resurgence will be breath taking in its purity and power.
So come Holy Spirit!