I opened up the Sunday paper today, rifling through the various sections, looking for the parts that might catch my interest. Travel and Metro are usually the only ones I spend any time on. I glance through the headlines, throw out the sports and hold my breath as I flip through the Outlook section. The Outlook section is an opinion/editorial section and I rarely agree with anything the Washington Post would print. It highlights new books though so I usually squint my eyes as I search for the latest literary helpings.
Today, though, the top article’s title caught my attention as I was beginning to flip: “Time to hear Pope Benedict’s confession“. My eyes scanned over the first sentence drawing me into the article. As I did the name of the author caught in my peripheral vision. Did it say Sinead O’Connor? As in the bald singer from the early 90s who tore up the picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live? I kind of snickered, feeling compelled to read now, wondering what vitriol I would encounter.
Instead, I came away from reading the article completely in agreement with her. O’Connor was well-spoken, rational and plainly stated her case. She even included an explanation as to why she tore up the Pope’s picture. Would I have done that? Given my background and personal experience with the church, no. Due to what she experienced as a child, and what the general Irish citizenry encountered, and the hypocrisy that is so poisonous to her today I can understand her motivation.
As someone who is not a Catholic but a believer in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit I am concerned with the allegations of sexual abuse rampant throughout the church system nowadays. It is hitting the Catholic church the hardest but everyone from Baptist ministers to Jewish Rabbis are being accused and found guilty.*
The Reformation came about because of the Catholic church’s abuses of power. Holding the purse strings in one hand and the outcome of men’s souls in the other. People such as Martin Luther wanted to get away from the heavy-handedness of the Catholic hierarchy and back to a more real, honest worship of Jesus through a complete understanding of the Bible.
I think the Catholic church is at another crossroads. For Bishops and possibly even the Pope to desire to cover up sexual abuse in order to save face for the Catholic church as a being, an institution, is reprehensible. To devalue the church member in order to overvalue the office, especially concerning sexual sins against children is completely non biblical. Jesus loved children. Would He want sins committed against them to go hidden, unpunished? Vengeance is His, whether there is retribution on this side of Heaven or not.
O’Connor only condemns the Catholic church because growing up in Catholic Ireland she felt that “we Irish endured a brutal brand of Catholicism that revolved around the humiliation of children.” Hers was a personal experience. The blame, as one can find doing any amount of research, extends far beyond the Catholic folds.
What struck me as well about her article was never mentioned outright. Hypocrisy. There is hypocrisy that many in the world today see within the CHRISTIAN church. O’Connor is picking on the sexual sin of abuse of the Catholic church because that is what is making headlines and where she felt the pain, but what of the sin of divorce? The sin of premarital sex? The sin of pornography? All of those are rampant in every denomination of Christian churches and the hypocrisy is making it downright impossible to make unbelievers believe that there is anything special to be had with a relationship with Jesus Christ.
And that’s the problem. The Catholic church is concerned with appearance whereas the Protestant churches just don’t care. When we as Christians begin to care again about God’s will as the basis for having established religion then we will begin to do the right things by the victims.
I rambled a bit more than what might be necessary, but I felt a connection with O’Connor that I didn’t expect to feel. I in no way intend to bash the Catholic church any more than I would criticize my own Protestant churches for their shortfalls. I don’t dislike the Pope as a person and feel that he has no control over these Cardinals’ and Bishops’ and Priests’ behaviors. He does have a responsibility, just like every Christian on God’s green earth, to make sure the followers of Christ are taken care of and that our evangelistic efforts would not be impeded by rampant sin of any kind. In short, I was impressed with Sinead, based on what I read, and wanted to state so.
*It’s not the religious position that makes the man sin; the sinfulness is already in his heart, going unchecked by himself or unpunished by his superiors. We should not blame the Christian church for creating monsters, we should blame it for harboring them.