Rousing Her Radiance: Day 15
Leveraging Church Hypocrisy #1
‘If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who I am to judge him?’- Pope Francis
The leaning rainbow tower was built on shifting, sandy layers of immorality, like our culture of divorce, porn, fornication, and contraception. Why then, has the Church—last bastion of the culture of Life—been so impotent in addressing sexual identity confusion? Why does Pope Francis just shrug and smile: ‘Who am I to judge?’
Has he been seduced by the stars, synodal visitors like Whoopi Goldberg who recently fawned to the press over Francis’ endearing little asides (‘a person’s sexual behavior is quite frankly none of your business’)?
Nah. He understands that he leads the only cohesive community on earth that still upholds marriage-for-life and chastity for all and eschews birth control while championing a consumer-free approach to sexual dignity. He just knows the Church’s underside.
I contend that the enemy has used the last 50 years of a clerical sexual abuse crisis to so sicken Francis that he concedes, forget it. If this is what orthodox churchmen do—mess with kids (mostly teen boys) then do everything in their power to cover it up, who am I—who are we—to judge civilians with same-sex attraction?
Think about it. We know the ongoing reports of disintegrated Catholic ‘fathers’ (I know other Christian leaders are not exempt, but let’s focus on Rome here) imparting sexual sin to spiritual sons and daughters. At the turn of the new millennium, the number of avowed male adult homosexuals (approximately 3-5%) matched the number of celibate churchmen acting decidedly unchastely toward their young charges.
Now think of John Paul or Benedict or Francis at the center of this storm as they sought to order a scandalized Church. Nuclear fall-out. And revelatory of an ugly corruption and coverup known as clericalism in which the men’s club hunkers down to protect their own.
Our common enemy has seized this wickedness (not weakness, that’s neutral—this is the worst abuse of sexual power, done in Jesus’ name) and amplified it to scatter seekers, weaken the faithful (how many dioceses have declared bankruptcy?), and exhaust chaste popes.
Popes respond differently. John Paul was the first to face a growing crisis: he began reforms but did so inconsistently. With friends, he often turned a blind eye, e.g., Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ. Still, aware of the impact of the sexual revolution upon the Church, which encouraged ‘gay’ enclaves among priests and fostered their unchaste behavior, he wrote Theology of the Body, arguably the best ‘yes’ to sexual dignity that any Christian has ever written.
In 2005, Benedict had it harder. Clerical abuse scandals escalated under his 8-year-leadership; he faced more fire than any pope in tending an exposed Church. Admiration for his diligence spurred my desire to become Catholic. He owned the suffering of victims, disciplined abusers, AND championed chastity. Ultimately, I think that battle (and there were certainly many others) wore him out. But he ended his papacy in the spirit of John Paul, holding fast to human sexual dignity:
‘Yet I would like to underline a point that seems to me to be neglected, today as in the past: there is also an ecology of man. Man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will. Man is not merely self-creating freedom. Man does not create himself. He is intellect and will, but he is also nature, and his will is properly ordered if he respects his nature, listens to it, and accepts himself for who he is, as one who did not create himself. In this way and no other, is true human freedom fulfilled.’
Pope Francis also referenced an ecology of ‘man’ in his excellent encyclical ‘Care for Our Common Home.’ Yet, he has failed to build on and assert this distinctly Catholic understanding of inspired human nature and its freedom, as we shall see. Perhaps his humble advocacy of the abused prepared the way. Instead of raising foundations, Francis appears to concede to their crumbling. ‘Who am I to judge?’ indeed.
“We see the mess we are in, O God. We confess secrets and lies that have stolen lives, even in Jesus’ Name. We acknowledge the cost, the toll, the long road to repairing the damage done by clerical abuse. Heal sheep divided by shepherds. And make whole our vision of who we can be, and what Your Church is becoming as You cleanse her deep sin.’
‘Father, we thank You for Jesus who established the Church on a Rock against which hell will not prevail (Matt 16:18). We pray for every Christian leader to build on Her firm foundation of sexual clarity and integrity. Father, unmask the deceiver and divider of Christians and unite us in one Spirit. As weak members of Christ, we ask for truth to guide our pursuit of sexual wholeness, for grace to sustain it, and for spiritual power to transform us. May we reflect the chaste radiance of Jesus (2 Cor. 3:18) as we “shine like stars in the universe, holding out the word of life” (Phil. 2:15-16) to a lost and hurting world.’