A call for a Catholic reformation

By Henri BouladEgyptian Jesuit (Originally written in July 2007. Published with the author’s permission.) Holy Father, I dare to speak … Continued

By Henri Boulad
Egyptian Jesuit

(Originally written in July 2007. Published with the author’s permission.)

Holy Father,

I dare to speak directly to you for my heart bleeds upon seeing the abyss into which our Church is falling. Hopefully, you will forgive the filial frankness, inspired by the liberty of the children of God to which St. Paul invites us and for my impassioned love for the Church.

I will be pleased also that you forgive the alarmist tone of this letter for I know that little time remains and that the situation remains dire. Let me first tell you a little about myself. I am an Egyptian Lebanese Jesuit of the Melkiterite. I will soon turn 78. For the last 3 years, I have been the rector of the Jesuit school in Cairo. I have also carried out the following responsibilities: superior of the Jesuits in Alexandria, regional superior of the Jesuits in Egypt, professor of theology in El Cairo, director of Caritas-Egypt, and vice president of Caritas International for the Middle East and North Africa.

I am well acquainted with the Catholic hierarchy of Egypt having participated over many years in meetings as president of superiors of the religious orders of Egypt. I have very close relations with each one of them, some of whom are my former students. I also personally know Pope Chenouda III, whom I saw frequently. As far as the Catholic hierarchy of Europe goes, I had the opportunity to meet personally with some of its members such as Cardinal Koening, Cardinal Schonborn, Cardinal Daneels, Cardinal Martini, Archbishop Kothgasser, Bishops Kapellari and Kung, other Austrian bishops and bishops of other European countries. These encounters occurred during my annual trips to give conferences throughout Europe, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, France, Belgium, etc. During these visits, I spoke and engaged with diverse audiences and the media (newspapers, radio, television, etc.) I did the same in Egypt and the Near East.

I have visited 50 countries on 4 continents and have published some 30 books in 15 languages–mainly in French, Arabic, Hungarian, and German. Of the 13 books in German, perhaps you have read Sons and Daughters of God which was published by your friend, Fr. Erich Fink of Bavaria. I say this not to brag, but rather to tell you simply that my intentions are grounded in a realistic knowledge of the universal church and its current situation in 2009.

Returning to the reason for this letter, I will try to be as brief, clear, and objective as possible.

In the first place, there are several topics [the list is not exhaustive].

Number 1
Religious practice is in a constant decline. A continually shrinking number of seniors [who will soon disappear] are those who frequent the churches in Europe and Canada. The only remaining remedy will be to close these churches or change them into museums, mosques, clubs, or municipal libraries as is now being done. The thing that surprises me is that many of these churches are being completely renovated and modernized at great expense with the hope of attracting the faithful. But this will not stop the exodus.

Number 2
Seminaries and novitiates are emptying out at the same speed, and vocations are in sharp decline. The future is very somber and one has to ask who or what will bring relief. More and more African and Asian priests are in charge of European parishes.

Number 3
Many priests abandon the priesthood. The few who remain–whose median age often is beyond that of retirement–have to be in charge of many parishes in an expedient and administrative capacity. Many of these priests, in Europe, as well as in the Third World, live in concubinage in plain sight of the faithful who normally accept them; this occurs with the knowledge of the local bishop who is not able to accept this arrangement, but who needs to keep in mind the scarcity of priests.

Number 4
The language of the church is obsolete, out of date, boring, repetitive, moralizing and totally out of synch with our age. The message of the Gospel should be presented in all its starkness and challenges. It is necessary to move towards a “new evangelization” to which John Paul II invited us. But this, contrary to what many think or believe, does not mean repeating the old which no longer speaks to us, but rather innovating and inventing a new language which expresses the faith in a meaningful way for the people of today.

Number 5
This is not able to be done without a profound renewal of theology and catechesis which should be completely reformulated. A German religious priest whom I met recently was telling me that the word “mystic” was not even mentioned once in “The New Catechism.” I could not believe it. We have to concede that our faith is very cerebral, abstract, dogmatic, and rarely directed to the heart and body.

Number 6
As a consequence, a great number of Christians are turning to the religions of Asia, the sects, “new-age,” evangelical churches, occultism, etc. This is not unexpected. They go to other places to look for nourishment that they don’t find in their own home. They have the impression that we give them stones as if it were bread. The Christian faith in another age gave a sense of life to people. It appears to be an enigma to them today, the remains of a forgotten past.

Number 7
In the moral and ethical areas, the teachings of the magisterium repeated ” ad nausaeum,” about marriage, contraception, abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, married priests, the divorced who remarry again, etc. etc., no longer affect anyone, and only produce weariness and indifference. All of these moral and pastoral problems deserve something more than categorical declarations. They need a pastoral, sociological, psychological and human treatment that is more evangelical.

Number 8
The Catholic Church, which has been the great teacher of Europe for many centuries, seems to forget that this same Europe has arrived at its maturity. Our adult Europe does not wish to be treated as a child. The paternalistic style of a church “mater et magistra” is completely out of touch and no longer works today. Christians have learned to think for themselves and are no longer inclined to swallow just anything that someone else proposes.

Number 9
The most Catholic nations of the past, for example, France, “the first-born daughter of the church,” or ultra-Catholic French Canada, have made a hundred and eighty degree turn and have fallen into atheism, anti-clericalism, agnosticism, and indifference. Other European nations are proceeding down the same path. We are able to state that the more a nation was dominated and protected by the church in the past, the stronger is their reaction against it today.

Number 10
The dialogue with other churches and religions is in a worrisome decline today. The great progress made over the last half century is on hold at this time. Facing this almost devastating situation, the church’s leadership reacts in two ways:

1. They tend to minimize the seriousness of the situation and to console themselves by focusing on a resurgence of the most traditionalist factions and on growth in the Third World countries.
2. They appeal to their confidence in the Lord who has sustained the church for over 20 centuries and who is able to help them overcome this new crisis.

To this I respond.

Neither relying on the past nor holding on to its crumbs will solve the problems of today and tomorrow. The apparent vitality of the churches in the Third World today is misleading. It appears very probable that these new churches eventually will pass through the same crises that the old European Christianity encountered.

Modernity is irreversible and having forgotten this is why the church today finds itself in such a crisis. Vatican II tried to reverse four centuries of stagnation, but there is an impression that the church is gradually closing the doors that it opened at that time. The church has tried to direct itself backwards towards the council of Trent and Vatican I rather than forward toward Vatican III. Let’s remember a statement that John Paul II repeated many times, “There is no alternative to Vatican II.”

How long will we continue playing the politics of the ostrich hiding our heads in the sand? How long will we avoid looking things in the face? How long will we continue turning our back and rejecting every criticism rather than seeing it as a chance for renewal? How long will we continue to postpone a reform that has been neglected for too long a time?

Only by looking forward and not backward will the church fulfill its mission to be the light of the world, salt of the earth, and leaven in the dough. Nevertheless, unfortunately what we find today is that the church is the caboose of our age after having been the locomotive for centuries.

I repeat again what I said at the beginning of this letter. Time is running out! History doesn’t wait especially in our era when it its rhythm flows ever more rapidly.

Any business when confronting a deficit or dysfunction examines itself immediately, bringing together a group of experts, trying to revitalize itself, and mobilizing all its energies to overcoming the crisis. Why doesn’t the church do something different? Why doesn’t it mobilize all its living forces to have a radical aggiornamento? Why?

Because of laziness? Lethargy? Pride? Lack of imagination? Lack of creativity? Culpable passivity in the hope that the Lord will take care of things and because the church has weathered other crises in the past.

In the Gospels, Christ warns us that “the children of darkness manage their affairs better than the children of light.”

So then, what needs to be done? The Church of today has an urgent and compelling need for a three-pronged reform.

1. A theological and catechetical reform to rethink our faith and reformulate it in a coherent way for our contemporaries. A faith that has no significance and gives no meaning to life is nothing more than an ornament, a useless superstructure that eventually implodes upon itself. This is the current situation.

2. A pastoral reformulation that re-thinks from head to toe the structures inherited from the past.

3. A spiritual renewal to revitalize the mystical and to rethink the sacraments with the view of giving them an existential dimension, one that connects with life.

I would have much more to say about this. Today’s church is too formal, too formalistic. One has the impression that the institution suffocates its charisma, and in the end what one finds is purely external stability, a superficial honesty, a kind of facade. Don’t we run the risk that Jesus will describe us as the “whitened seplechres”?

In conclusion, I suggest convoking a general synod at the level of the universal church in which all Christians would participate-Catholics and others-to examine with openness and clarity the issues raised above and their ramifications.

Such a synod would last three years and would conclude with a general assembly-let’s avoid the word council-which would synthesize the results of this exploration and draw its conclusions.

I end, Holy Father, by asking your pardon for my outspoken boldness and I ask for your paternal blessing. Let me also tell you that in these days I live in your company thanks to your extraordinary book, Jesus of Nazareth, which is the focus of my spiritual reading and daily meditation.

With the utmost affection in the Lord,

Henri Boulad

Henri Boulad, S.J. ix a priest in Egypt and rector of the Jesuit school in Cairo.

(Learn more about Catholic leadership and clergy at Patheos.com)

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  • Sajanas

    I think there are as many fervently faithful people out there as there were in ages past but in today’s Western societies, they are not allowed to force everyone else into church with them. Could anyone really claim to be an Atheist 200 or 300 years ago without some severe consequences? Living without faith is quite viable today, both in that the big questions are touched on by science enough to make the holy books seem antiquated, and because society (in the US at least) is diverse enough so that the whole community isn’t able to force you to church if you don’t desire it. Much as evangelicals of all sects desire it, I don’t think that universal triumph of a religion is possible anymore, now that government is released from bindings to the church.Also, a particular fault with the RCC seems that it is still running itself as a tyranny in the days of democracy. The Supreme Leader of Iran and his Guardian Council operate in a way that is identical to that of the Pope and the Cardinals. The leader appoints the council, and the council appoints the leader. Regular people have little input on their church. Having experienced a bit of Lutheranism, the congregation voted for its pastors, the whole church was consulted on matters of policy, and its pastors are not deprived of family and leisure.

  • laloomis

    Another decalogue?As far as modernizing the language of the church (Number 4), Christopher Hitchens offers an excellent rewrite of the Ten Commandments–an updated moral code, if you will–which you might want to truly seriously consider. You can find the Hitchens version quite easily on the Web.

  • withouthavingseen

    My, how novel.

  • douglaslbarber

    “Europe has arrived at its maturity. Our adult Europe does not wish to be treated as a child. The paternalistic style of a church “mater et magistra” is completely out of touch and no longer works today. Christians have learned to think for themselves and are no longer inclined to swallow just anything that someone else proposes.”I rather think that those in the materially comfortable, politically democratic post-industrial west who haven’t abandoned religion altogether feel entitled to religion tailored to satisfy their needs as consumers of spiritual comfort. They most certainly won’t stand for a religion which asks them to make personal sacrifices.Of course, if you tailor Christianity to the tastes of such people, you rob it of its essence. Perhaps the Bishop of Rome is unwilling to allow the spirit of the age to thus gut Christianity, and perhaps this is why Pope Benedict will decline to act on this Jesuit’s suggestions.

  • rb-freedom-for-all

    Why don’t you Catholic clerics just stop lying? It’s a commandment, you know! Where’s you’re credibility when all you do is lie?

  • explorers100

    It is time for what Gore Vidal called the “Sky God” religions to retire. They have outlived their usefulness and now all they do is hinder humanity.We do not have to look to the Bronze Age to find our way forward. We should take the best these religions have to offer–compassion, community, charity and jettison the rest on the trash pile of history.Today, while over a billion humans live on less than a dollar a day and even in the industrialized world thousands are homeless, we heat and maintain millions of square feet of churches. These religions have become almost gangrenous. They are being used to destroy the future and humanity’s energy is needed to create a new moral order based on right reason.

  • douglaslbarber

    explorers100 wrote, “…humanity’s energy is needed to create a new moral order based on right reason.”There are at least two problems with this popular argument.1: Whenever and however Homo Sapiens came about, it has enjoyed the use of reason for as long as it’s been out and about. Its history is one of disingenuous use of reason in the service of self interest. To expect that this will now suddenly change, that modern humans are somehow morally different than ever humans have been, is to hitch your wagon to an article of faith which has been empirically falsified by the record human beings have established in every time and place where they’ve shown their faces.2) With regard to a “new moral order”, all moral disputes depend, not only on evidence, but also on which value you regard as highest, and reason is of no use in deciding whether you should value altruism more highly than selfishness, self-determination more highly than respect for human life. These are matters of aesthetics, “feeling”, if you will. If you choose to believe that peoples’ feelings have become more moral over time, you might get your argument off to a good start by explaining Hitler, Stalin, the murder rate in American inner cities, and the USA’s use of nuclear weapons against Japan in WWII.But please, spare me the “new moral order based on right reason” rhetoric.

  • DaveoftheCoonties

    Gary Wills offers a coherent and rather liberal case for keeping the Church (and the wider church) around. The old prophets, Gospel writers, Paul, and a huge collection of Church Fathers and miscellaneous saints have quite a lot to say for us. Paulist Press (a distinctly American outfit) has a healthy practice of printing good, cheap editions of religious thinkers, not all Catholic, or even Christian.

  • Lorenzo-NY

    Fr. Boulad is as cogent as he is courageous. Of couse he is righ. Most Catholics would likely agree with him. The problem is with the boys in the pointed hats.

  • truthhurts

    Funny that people believe Ronald Reagan told Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. As noted by Historians, the People of Russia were tearing down walls long before Reagan spoke up.I suggest that we are in a period of enlightenment in which the evils of a dark age are being revealed. From the more spiritually inspiring witness accounts of JC’s life I noticed He said that (paraphrasing) once eyes are opened, there will be disappointment. But this should not deter true Believers to loose faith as the process itself under Divine intervention may lead to a spiritual housecleaning of the Church itself.There is comfort to the masses in ritual, but I think certain the healing powers of the Church have to come from its own cleanliness first. And of course, some people believe the Evil One would like nothing more than to discredit its adversary. The ole line is “Tell no one and offer yourself to the Waters as witness but sin no more”. In the end, through the demands by the People will thy Physician heal itself, God-Willing.

  • Matthew_DC

    The Jesuit’s letter is interesting, but in a sense he falls into an error many clergy make these days. He believes it’s possible to fundamentally transform religion to make it more appealing. If truth be told, many former theists leave because they don’t appreciate the constraints historical religion seeks to impose on their lives. There’s simply no way to bridge that gap, unless religion is turned into non-religion, and places of worship are transformed into places of entertainment. It would be absurd to alter the content of a faith in order to fill a building. The ministers of religion will have to convince people why the suggested restraints are good. And people will choose to believe or not. He really shouldn’t fret too much if a large number of people don’t believe. It’s a personal choice for which each person bears the consequences, even if the belief is that there are none.

  • barferio

    The very premise of god-based religions is no longer accepted, acceptable. Assertions and conclusions based on this faulty and unprovable premise are then seen as faulty and unprovable themselves.The big 3 theistic religions come to us here in our current future created and packaged by iron age primitives. How relevant can they be?Religion has been our training wheels, it helped us get to where we are now, for better or worse we seemed to need it. But now it has become parasitic, and it needs us more than we need it. This author’s points can easily be seen in this light.

  • rohitcuny

    “We do not have to look to the Bronze Age to find our way forward. We should take the best these religions have to offer–compassion, community, charity and jettison the rest on the trash pile of history.” Posted by: explorers100

  • YEAL9

    A call for a Catholic reformation? No, a call for reformation of all of today’s religions!!!

  • Bugs222

    A good, heartfelt appeal. Too bad you can’t put new wine into an old vessel. The basic problem is with any religion that teaches that “the truth” rests only in old scriptures. God talks to all of us all the time and new revelations are all around us. We just seldom tune in and listen. No need for fancy cathedrals or temples. God is staring at you through the eyes of your neighbor. And through your own eyes in the mirror. Look. Go within or go without.

  • stanassc

    When will the Vatican expand the role of married Eastern Rite priests to the rest of the world?

  • chrisinwien

    The good father never even mentions the Eucharist. For the rest, I wonder whether he considers the Church a rough draft in need of an editor (himself) before publication.The truths of the Catholic Faith are timeless. The Incarnation happened. Christ rose from the dead. We crucified Him and now He begs us to let Him forgive us. He longs to spend eternity with us. Let Him! Happy Easter to all.

  • ravitchn

    The church needs always to be reformed. When it refuses to do so it leads to radical change, as happened in the 16th century when Protestants threw out the baby with the bathwater. The result was the insipidities of Protestantism with which we still live, namely HERESY, EVANGELICALISM, KITSCH, and LESBIAN PRIESTESSES.

  • insearchoftruthnotopinion

    I sincerely hope you will listen to Lon Solomon some morning as he teaches the bible by giving us facts, information, history of what life was like back then and relates it to how things are currently. Facts, not opinions; a lesson in God’s word, not repetitive prayers nor opinions based on rhetoric — The way Lon Solomon reads the bible and teaches it’s lesson by relevance to history and today and cross-referrals to actual biblical text is what we come to church for. We are in search of God’s word, his meaning, his lesson from scholarly priests who have studied and mastered the technique of breaking down the complicated into easy to understand relevance — please do away with the repetitive nature of mass and all opinion — just give us what we so desparately need, facts, history, relevance. Please listen to Lon Solomon at McLean Bible Church — his reading of the bible and explanation by providing us with background history and relevance to today is what religious teaching should be all about. Thanks for your consideration.

  • tojby_2000

    To author Henri Boulad S.J :I dare to write to you directly.

  • GMB-OKC

    “Stay away from organized religion” is one piece of advice I give my children. You can believe in God and be a follower of Christ, but past that is a minefield of extortion, emotional abuse, and brain washing.

  • fizzy1

    Yeah – what the world needs now is another Martin Luther.

  • Bluefish2012

    Fr. Henri identifies the problems well, but his proposals boil down to “let’s go with the flow.”

  • pechins

    One either has faith or one doesn’t. No amount of research, philosophy or reason will help you to understand the Christian religion. It comes from the heart. The Holy Spirit must come to you with divine revelation. That is why Jesus said, “You must have the heart of a child to enter the Kingdom of God.” The hatred I read in the opinions above are sad. Most of you need to know the Lord to resolve some of the issues you have endured. Remember each time Israel was saved only a small remnant remained. It has always been that way. In America many of you will drift off because of various reasons. The remnant will be us that have remained true to Christ. People, think about Noah and the people who mocked and laughed at him. But when the Flood came he and his family were saved. God Bless all of you.

  • tenshi1

    To hold the current Pope responsible for all the abuse would be akin to holding our current president responsible for all the economic problems in this country – or even for slavery. It is not helpful nor is it valid.

  • shoddymill

    First, full disclosure: I speak as an ex-Catholic, now evangelical.I don’t see Fr. Boulad calling for a change in the content of the message, but in its packaging. The Church should be careful not to lose focus on the eternal message for the sake of being attractive to today’s world. But think of it this way: not so long ago, the Mass was “packaged” in Latin. Not many people would say it was wrong to switch to the native tongues of the faithful. The Church has much, much more to do, however, to clean its moral and doctrinal house. Interesting days ahead.

  • whitelabrat

    What I find troubling about this opinion and other articles like is that folks are serious about this junk they write. One of the great things about Roman Catholicism is that it does not conform to modern society. It is a rock of truth that stands firm. Can your whims justify changing the care that Christ and great minds for the last 2000 years have formulated?If you want it your way go to Burger King. If you want it His Way the Church is ready and waiting to help you with living a true Christian life! Catholics love Christ and strive for the best way to follow. It is unfortunate that many people aren’t willing to go the whole distance. Christ was put on a cross for us. Nobody said following Him to that cross would be easy or convenient.

  • farhorizons

    I need to ask: Why all this effort over ‘saving’ the church? Jesus didn’t tell us to save the church. He told us to feel the hungry, care for the sick, shelter the homeless, etc. etc. So why are the good people who have been faithful to this faithless institution–the good laypeople, the good nuns, and yes some good priests–why are you all so worried about remaking the church to save it? Our vocation as followers of Christ is to follow Christ, not to save the Church.

  • Chaotician

    The Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Mohammedanism are hopelessly based on flawed tribal customs and history of the wandering nomads of the Middle East! There roots are in the Babylonian and Egyptian cultures and that mythology is long ago displaced by growing knowledge and the civilization of modern ages. Having rehashed and amalgamated versions written into Jewish history does not make them any more relevant or true; in fact it does the opposite of course as the roots of the myths are exposed to the light of truth and knowledge. All Abrahamic religions are businesses of the anointed priests; depending on ignorance and social conditioning from generation to generation to enslave the minds, bodies, and fruits of their labor to the benefit of the business of religion and its rulers. Nothing is clearer than when one looks at the Vatican and its old men parading about in Medieval costumes reflecting the glory days when the Priests ruled the rulers and their pockets overflowed with the wealth taken form their supplicants. Today’s version is the mansions and extravagant life styles of the self-promoting con men of Evangelical entertainment industry of America. The Abrahamic cults are a parasite of man; the Fundamental varieties are a cancer eating at the survival of the species!

  • Karmachoirboy

    Well, you see, part of the problem is the newest pope to reside in the catacombs of the Vatican, JPII. Relying on Ratzinger to redefine Vatican II, JPII returned the Church to it’s pre-Vatican II closing of the windows. JPII was adamant that the features of your faith that scream Roman tradition be returned: Latin mass, habited religious, fanatical devotion to Mary, and a strong tradition of letting priests rape whoever they want.

  • toc59

    The church is simply being itself. It can’t be reformed from what it is. IT IS a wealthy, arrogant, mysoginistic mens club. IT DOES consider itself and it’s priests above secular law (and obviously any moral standards). IT DOES put the welfare and material comfort of it’s priests above the welfare of it’s flock. IT IS blind to it’s own hypocrisy.Remeber when Mother Theresa died and John Paul II, while sitting surrounded by untold wealth, opulence and luxury and without any sense of irony or hypocrisy, praised her for living a truly modest, impoverished, christ-like life?That’s who they are. Give us your money, your will, your conscience, and yes, even your children, and control over the most intimate areas of your life and don’t you dare question or criticize us about what we do with them.

  • vigor

    Stop looking to the Church for moral guidance.They are utterly clueless.

  • patrick3

    Given Father Boulard’s extensive experience within the Catholic Church surely he’s known pedophile priests over the years. What did he say or do about it? Did he look the other way?

  • Thoma2010

    We human beings have mastered the art of distorting facts perfectly well. The talk about the Church gives the impression that the Church is the Vatican or the Pope, some cardinal or Archbishop. The Church rightly understood simply refers to the people of God and this does not limit us to Roman Catholicism. To this end, the call should be for some people to reform because reforming the whole Church does not make much sense. We would run the risk of obscurity in our attempts to boast of clarity. Priests are human beings and the allegations against them seem to imply that they claimed some angelic virtues which we know to be rare among humans. Meanwhile Roman Catholicism must come to terms with this rather nasty experience, we sincerely hope that every one will come out well for only then could we be assured that those involved were genuinely Christian. There is the obvious danger of allowing this problem to degenerate in the hands of those with obvious inclinations towards doing havoc to Christianity instead of really correcting its abuses and excesses. The Church still remains our hope for a one united human family. Such a family will always be characterised by the zeal to care for one another. This involves understanding human weaknesses, correcting them and moving on. It is pointless to revisit things of the past and allow them tp ruin our experiences today. We sincerely sympathise with all victims of abuse: in the past, the present and the future and hope that authorities involved will learn one or two lessons.The will to challenge the world for the better should not be misconstrued as the will to abuse others. Obviously not all who end up in holy orders or such ranks could be seen as perfect human beings that have no propensities towards error. Thank you. Thomas Mhuriro,

  • mushzy

    Let’s get to the nitty gritty of it all; The catholic church is losing it’s influence. People are leaving the faith in droves, perhaps to look for new ways to worship or to just get away from it all. The connection between daily living and faith needs to be updated to give people direction. I am sure our Lord would want the church to do whatever it takes to help people understand that living the faith is about devotion and caring for others regardless of anything and everything.

  • LeeH1

    I am an Anglican-Catholic, which means I’m not Roman Catholic. However, the Apostolic church was founded by Christ, and is for eternity. It was here 2,000 years ago. It will be here 2,000 years from now. The winds of change blow cold, but they are temporary.Will the church grow and contract over time? Sure! Will heresies and evil doers defame the church? Sure! Will current changes affect the church’s true teachings over the millenia? I doubt it!Yes, many priests who were proud to wear the clerical collars are now embarrassed and humiliated by relevations of priestly misdoings. The displays of piety that once gave them privildege and power are debased. Good! This is as Christ said to his followers, Pick up the cross, and follow me. The failings of your brothers are also your failings, and you must work harder to restore the faith of the people in your work. It is not easy; it is humbling to do so.But the rewards are great. The mockers, the anti-Christians and the athiests will all die away; and the truth will endure. The church, developed by men, will crumble and fail. The church, established by Christ, will continue.After all, the cry of most of the athiests is that the followers of Christ are not Christian enough! The cries of the abused is not that they were betrayed by their priest, but that the church doubly betrayed them by supporting and protecting the miscreant priests out of managerial necessity. All of these are failings of the men who manage the church, and who are prone to the sin and failings of men everywhere.Let us burn the chaff away. The gold will remain with us always, even unto the ends of the earth. This is not man’s promise, but God’s.

  • YEAL9

    Some statistics:FIRST-YEAR CONTRACEPTIVE FAILURE RATESPeriodic abstinence – 25.3 (Masturbation) 0 http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html“CONTRACEPTIVE METHOD CHOICEMethod No. of users (in 000s) % of users i.e. i.e. 0.087 (failure rate)1,020,000 unwanted pregnanciesFor male condoms (failure rate of 17.4 and 18% use level) 1,200,000 unwanted pregnancies during the first year of male condom use.The Guttmacher Institute (same reference) notes also that the perfect use of the pill should result in a 0.3% failure rate

  • publishersplace

    At the heart of the church is Jesus, and He is alive and well and guiding, through the power of the Holy Spirit, all who humbly seek to be guided. That is the first thing. If we forget that, and look to ourselves, we will find ourselves stumbling in darkness and error, whether we are left, right, or center, Catholic or Protestant.

  • solid3

    The RCC and other churches may benefit from undergoing certian reforms. The sects have different viewpoints. In the RCC tradition Mary is deserved of prayer and honoring. Priests should not marry, but are to be solely focused upon the Lord to attain a higher spiritual state, and avoid distractions from the mundane. Hopefully, the church, together with misguided priests can atone for their transgressions, and move forward.

  • dcarrmedford

    Very thoughtful piece. I agree with so many of the points made. But the glaring omission of the Clergy Sexual Abuse Scandal, now entering its second decade (although the abuse has been going on for at least a half-century that we know of), is the most damning problem of all. It has exposed the leadership of the Vatican as rotten to the core. With 2/3 of bishops having shuffled around pedophile priests for the past generation (including the current pope), the majority of the leadership in the Vatican is simply guilty of massive crimes for which jail should be seriously considered. Until this scandal is dealt with seriously by the court system, the Catholic Church will never recover.

  • usapdx

    What this RCC administration has done and has fail to do as we all have seen around the earth just on the sex abuse & rape cases of children all for the sake of not damageing the image of the RCC has backfired. What BEN16 administration wants is to turn the VATICAN II clock back to ORDINARY STANDARD TIME. It is time for a NEW POPE and for him to call VATICAN III account RC members are voteing with their feet not to mention what the average RC member thinks of the RCC administration, the middle men. TRUTH will always come out in due time and this is no time to blow smoke in the RC members faces.

  • veronihilverius

    I would start by electing a pope who is under 135 years old and DOESN’T LOOK LIKE SATAN HIMSELF!!!That should be obvious no?

  • Gover

    Glad to see the Catholic Church finally in it’s death throes.Thousands of years of lies, oppression, violence, wars, theft, orgies, murders, power grabs, censorship and mismanagement will be the legacy of this organization. The Catholic faith is basically a blasphemous polytheistic religion deifying Mary and worshiping a pantheon of Saints as though they were gods.They destroyed cultures world-wide in their efforts to proselytize their message and recently plotted to diddle ever choir boy on Earth. Why can’t they just go away? The world is sick of you Catholics. You burned us too many times.

  • princjo

    #7 listed SHOULD ACTUALLY BE #1!

  • solid3

    The RCC and other churches may benefit from undergoing certian reforms. The sects have different viewpoints. In the RCC tradition Mary is deserved of prayer and honoring. Priests should not marry, but are to be solely focused upon the Lord to attain a higher spiritual state, and avoid distractions from the mundane. Hopefully, the church, together with misguided priests can atone for their transgressions, and move forward.

  • Wildthing1

    I’m sorry but anyone who has a God with the only word has a problem in a globalized world culture. All cultures to some degeree have problem reconciling ethics and morals with sexuality. We as human seem unable to balnace body and minds evidenced by how easily to accept collateral damage in service to idealogies in war.

  • nickwallmark

    Well said, and long over due. I can’t say much to those who comment with an obvious hatred towards Catholicism, and perhaps religion in general. However, I can comment to those, who like me, are willing to take our place as the next generation of church leaders. It is plainly obvious that the task ahead of us is daunting and seemingly impossible. Please, don’t lose your faith!

  • buckminsterj

    The word “whim” has been mis-applied at least twice in this thread – once to describe a moral code not rooted in theism, and once to describe those forces of progress to which the RCC “refuses to bend.”Please. Reason is not a whim – it is careful consideration, supported by logic and evidence, of what is true and good. Whims, on the other hand, are mere feelings, capricious by definition. The word is far more applicable to the assorted edicts of an imagined deity (perhaps the ultimate product of man’s whim).

  • ravitchn

    What would vicious anti-Catholic bigots do if there were no priestly pedophile scandal?

  • sachancp

    There’s a reason the Church is growing in places where people are educated the least. There’s a reason why in Europe and now in the U.S., non-churchgoers is becoming (or is) the majority of the population. It’s not that people are sick of God or religion. People are sick of religious institutions that have lost the trust of their followers. In days of old, only priests could read. They were able to preach anything, and wouldn’t be questioned. Now that people are better educated, and with the advent of the Internet, the general population is more tuned-in to the goings on in the World. Therefore, they see right through the bulls**t religions preach (i.e. condom use is somehow evil, killing innocent people is somehow ok as long as it’s for a good reason, religious leaders are somehow above the law, etc.). The Pope is just as human as I am, therefore, should be held to exactly the same standards (by the way, I’d say that also extends to politicians, athletes, CEO’s and “the rich”, police and everyone else under the Sun). Saying something is ok for someone to do but not someone else will not fly in the World today, and religious institutions need to recognize that and adapt to today’s standards or they will disintegrate once they face the wrath of the People (who really control everything, but sometimes are unsure how powerful they really are).

  • JackSchlag

    For all of those bashing the Catholic Church and calling for its demise, I would like to point out a few facts and figures:The Catholic Church educates 2.6 million students everyday at the cost to your Church of 10 billion dollars, and a savings on the other hand to the American taxpayer of 18 billion dollars. Church educated graduates go on to graduate studies at the rate of 92%, all at a cost to the church. To the rest of the Americans, it’s free.The Church has 230 colleges and universities in the U.S. with an enrollment of 700,000 students. The Catholic Church has a non-profit hospital system of 637 hospitals, which accounts for hospital treatment of 1 out of every 5 people – not just Catholics – in the United States today.Catholic Relief Services and the US Coast Guard were the first on the ground in Haiti and CRS was among the most effective orgainzations in directing aid directly to those most in need.Need we look any further than the District of Columbia to see the good work of Catholic Charities and Covenant House, the thousands of students educated in local Catholic Schools, Georgetown University and The Catholic University of America as among the top universities in the District and the world (even former President Clinton benefitted from his law degree from Georgetown), Catholic Legal Aid Service giving free legal assistance to those who otherwise would not be able to afford those services. The list goes on…

  • jamshark70

    Hope for the future in the Catholic Church comes from those priests on the ground who are dedicated and sincere (despite the scandals, there are a lot of them left) and from the people in the pews.I don’t hold out much hope for the Vatican hierarchy. Everything they are doing to assess the crisis of faith and to manage the sex abuse scandals is wrong. Everything. Epic fail. Where people suffer doubt, they advocate blind adherence to The Law. They miss the point utterly, when they try to “solve” the problem of Catholics who think for themselves by redefining faith as stupid obedience to a human institution.Fortunately, nobody, not even the Pope, can control the workings of the Spirit, or Spirit. The Vatican may crumble but faith goes on, and these days I think faith would be better off without the Vatican.

  • jnardo

    There are many of us following this story who are not church-goers or “Christians” in the sense that someone within the church might use the word. We don’t particularly care about the supernatural aspects of the religion – things like virgin birth or ascension. Yet we are followers of the teachings of Jesus – how to live, how to relate to others, what things are truly important in life.We stay away from the church because of its focus on “beliefs” – and some of us actually think that focus is unlike Christ who seemed himself to be inclusive rather than dogmatic. Henri Boulad seems to understand that the churches have gone awry and lost their way. We don’t need a church to explain nature like they did in ancient history. We don’t actually need the church so much for a moral compass. Those functions have other institutions. But we do need the church for our spiritual development – something that has little to do with beliefs, dogma, or the supernatural.Perhaps the synod he suggests might refocus the church on what Jesus actually taught and how he lived…

  • buckminsterj

    “I believe it’s no coincidence that we also live in an age where the use of pharmaceutical ant-depressants is equally high.”Great point. People in other eras never used pharmaceutical anti-depressants or “sexted” or browsed internet porn. Because they had god, right?

  • bobbarnes

    A criminal is a criminal, stop using religion to cover up these crimes. And stop mislabeling the child sexual abuse by scapegoating it on to the LGBT population.

  • nickwallmark

    @ buckminsterj – “Reason is not a whim – it is careful consideration, supported by logic and evidence, of what is true and good. Whims, on the other hand, are mere feelings, capricious by definition. The word is far more applicable to the assorted edicts of an imagined deity (perhaps the ultimate product of man’s whim).”In your efforts to evangelize the existence of “Nothing”, you’ve seemed to fail at carefully considering the evidence and logic in the totality of human nature. Spirituality is as basic to human nature as emotion and intellect. Each of which likely evolved as a survival advantage. Focusing on one aspect of our ability to exist in our environment leaves a vacuum for the rest. Your comment seems to suggest you take an ‘either/or’ and dismissive approach to understanding who we are. My approach focuses on accepting our nature in its entirety and relies on the culmination of human knowledge throughout all ages as a foundation for understanding.

  • Larryman

    Oh please, don’t cry from them. The Catholic Church has about as much to do with God as the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster does. Give it up. That Crazy Catholic Church is unacquainted with God and is a waste of time to mourn for.

  • Robe2

    A major problem that is at the heart of the RCC’s sex abuse candals around the world is its use of old style authority. I think that is what the writer was proposing. A change in the Church’s approach to authority.After all, a Priest is supposed to be “called” by God to enter the priesthood. The man does not “choose” a “job.” He has a “vocation.” As part of the ordination Mass, the new Priest’s hands are blessed by the Bishop.In some instances minutes before or after handling the Euchrist at the alter, since alter boys were involved in these criminal acts by the offending Priests.Therefore, how could God “call” these tousands of men in the US and Europe to be Priests?Is God falliable?If God is falliable, then how can the Church have an infalliable Pope?For the RCC, any break in its foundation of authority, weakens the entire edifice. That is why the RCC is fighting so hard today, and over all the years in the past, to avoid this scandal.

  • DaveHarris

    Very touching, but for an elderly Jesuit this shows suprisingly little understanding of the Church. Some of us remember the 60’s when, inspired by John XXIII’s Second Vatican Council, many people attempted by bring the Catholic Church into line with modern realities. The traditionalists, both in the clergy and laity, rebelled and the reformers mostly left for greener pastures. The reason traditionalists (or “conservatives” if you prefer) find change so objectionable is that the basis of their faith holds the Church to be eternal and unchanging. It was established by God, even before the coming of Jesus (so they’ve claimed), as perfect in every respect. Therefore, any change is a degradation from the perfect state of absolute truth. Of course, the actual history of the Church has shown this to be a complete fantasy, as the Church has in fact been forced to change many times and in major ways. But traditionalists are so addicted to the fantasy of eternal perfection that they are compelled to oppose any change whatsoever, imagining that to do so would offend their God.Now you have a situation which suggests that it might be better to allow male priests to have normal relationships with women. The celebacy requirement did not exist from the beginning of the Church. It was in fact one of those changes that was forced by the circumstances of the times. Nevertheless, once an unavoidable change has been decreed, it is eventually adopted by traditionalists as the will of their God, and therefore absolutely correct and unchangeable. This is the absurdity of their position. It is also the reason why any change will meet stiff resistance from the most entrenched members of the Church. Unless the Church leaders impose change from the top (and they usually have no reason to do so), reformers will be driven out, just as they were 40 years ago. Could the Church eventually reach the point where there are no followers left? It has already happened in Europe, arguably the most highly educated population on earth. The center of Church power is now in the Third World, among illiterate masses. As long as they exist, so will the Church.

  • JoeDBrown

    Yes we should listen to nimrods like the author and become the Church of What’s Happening Now. I mean he and other leftists have found the truth. The other 1.5 billion Catholics and 2000 years of Saints, Theologians, Religious and scholars must feel really stupid. Ooops isn’t that how the Church got into it’s current mess? You bet.Sure the the RCC should take the advice of a far left wing, statist propaganda sheet and all of its followers who advocate for sodomy, gay marriage, cross dressing, abortion, pornography, sexual license, euthanasia, legalization of drugs, large intrusive government, politcal correctness, high taxes and who are inordinately fond of thugs, mass murderers and tyrants like Fidel, Che. Mao, Stalin etc..Or were those guys mystics too? With all of the insane, factless abuse being heaped on the Pope and his Church I am beginning to think they may be the true faith. After all, look what the main stream fanatics of Christ’s time did to him and the faithful.

  • nickwallmark

    “After all, look what the main stream fanatics of Christ’s time did to him and the faithful.”It was actually the angry conservatives of his time that called for his execution. I feel sorry for you if the practice of your faith inspires such angry rhetoric. Are you sure you’re doing Christ’s work when lobbing such hateful criticism of anyone who doesn’t share your exact point of view?

  • AJBF

    The Catholic Church is a rigid, authoritarian, antiquated bureaucracy that at the highest levels of its hierarchy has little to do with the true spirit of Christ. It will finally implode under the weight of its own excrement. This process is part of a new world order that is being ushered in and which cannot be stopped.

  • gkrehbiel

    If this isn’t the lamest blog on the internet, it’s a close second. You’re so short on ideas that you have to post weird stuff like this? C’mon. Find somebody who actually has an interest in (and cares about) religion to run this blog, or just shut it down.

  • JoeDBrown

    It was actually the angry conservatives of his time that called for his execution. I feel sorry for you if the practice of your faith inspires such angry rhetoric. Are you sure you’re doing Christ’s work when lobbing such hateful criticism of anyone who doesn’t share your exact point of view?Hateful criticism? Are you mad. Have you read the articles and comments associated with them that have appeared in the msm? Have you noticed that all of these “news” articles and the drooling anti-Catholic comments contain no real facts or factual accusations linking the Pope to any thing? Have you and you ilk noticed the ongoing, not 50 year old, sexual abuse scandal in our public schools that is in the news daily across this country? Nah. Facts and reason have no place in the liberal world view. What pious, delusional self-righteousness. I learned early in life that liberals love humanity but no one in particular but themselves. I learned they are very sensitive except when heaping abuse and lies and violence on any one who disagrees with them. Do you know what projection is?Was the subject article well written? No. It was published to abuse the Pope and his Church. Read the comments again and try to be honest. Who is being hateful?

  • JoeDBrown

    It was actually the angry conservatives of his time that called for his execution. I feel sorry for you if the practice of your faith inspires such angry rhetoric. Are you sure you’re doing Christ’s work when lobbing such hateful criticism of anyone who doesn’t share your exact point of view?By the way it was the establishment of Christ’s time that did him in. Liberals are our establishment. Who is in the WH? Who controls Congress and the msm? Ordinary decent Americans are now cast in the odd role of being the real anti-establishment, the real counter culture, the real avant garde.

  • nickwallmark

    @JoeDBrownMy friend, and I do mean that sincerely. I have read the anti-catholic posts. They are a perfect example of the kind of hatred that should be rejected. Responding with an equal amount of anger only undermines your opposing point of view. Christ’s way was to love and forgive our enemies, not taunt them. There is a tremendous power and pragmatism in that philosophy. It contains the ability to diffuse anger and hatred. In order for the church to survive it must be an example of Christ’s love, not its antithesis. That is exactly the point of the author.

  • buckminsterj

    nickwallmark,Thanks for your response. Allow me to address your post one point at a time:”In your efforts to evangelize the existence of “Nothing” . . .”I assure you, I do no such thing. Is this your perception of atheism? If so, you misunderstand the term.”Spirituality is as basic to human nature as emotion and intellect.”I would argue that spirituality is in fact the suppression or perversion of intellect BY emotion, not a seperate phenomenon.Actually, one theory regarding the evolution of the religious impulse posits it as a byproduct, or misfiring, of a useful trait, though it is not in itself advantageous. Humans, for the purposes of survival, are wired to recognize agency. This is a valuable tool in avoiding hungry bears or aggressive rivals, but it also results in perceptions of agency (i.e. god) where there is none.”My approach focuses on accepting our nature in its entirety and relies on the culmination of human knowledge throughout all ages as a foundation for understanding.”I assume you mean “accumulation,” because we are nowhere near the culmination of human knowledge (though a biblical literalist would likely argue otherwise). But what happens when the knowledge of one age contradicts that of another? Besides, even if we accept spirituality as a fundamental human trait (like selfishness or prejudice), that does not rquire us to condone or celebrate it.

  • loretoguy

    Pope Benedict … As a nazi youth … blind to Hitler and his ways …As the “pope” … blind to humanity, civil behavior … regret …JUST PLAIN BLIND ……………………..The question is … Will the Church and its loyal, good people survive such an extreme lack of leadership ? ? ?

  • jsulli9028

    My partner and I (gay couple)are progressives and we both go to daily Mass at a church in Western Massachusetts. I love the Mass–I love the Liturgy. The “stuff” going on with the Vatican drives me crazy at times but this craziness can’t take away the love my parish, the sacraments–the People of God. I’m not in denial–I just don’t want to focus on the negative 24/7. Every day I pray for renewal in the Church, women priests and celibacy as a choice.By the way the Pastor of out church knows we are gay–it’s no problem.

  • ironman6

    Not being a Roman Catholic, I am somewhat overwhelmed by this Jesuit’s comments!At last someone from the R.C. clergy, admits openly, the problem with the Church,i.e, it’s doctrine, dogma and leadership, vision, etc.He has apparently struck a cord, because there are a lot of comments on this article. I call for other Catholic clergy to stand up! Now is the time!

  • cbl55

    If the Church had any wisdom whatever, the Cardinals should ask Benedict to step aside and proclaim Father Boulad Pope by Acclamation aloud (there is a precedent for this in the 13th century with the nomination of Celestine V who was a simple monk before).

  • revbookburn

    The letter is far too rational to be taken seriously by the hierarchy of arrogance and theocracy. The Pope had said to the world last weekend that he is not discouraged by “petty gossip,” regarding the child sexual abuse scandals. I choose not to be an enabler/ accomplice by refusing to contribute to them.

  • william27

    All in all, this will ultimately purify the difference Catholic churches. You never hear much about the French Catholic church. They seem to have talken care of the problem. And the US Catholic church, almost 1/4 of the american population, has done a good job and is doing a good job. So hopefully, other countries, churches will get better at monitoring and self-monitoring youth.Already offending clerics and workers who abuse youth in the US are sent to the police, first. Bishops call the police. That’s a better policy than most secular US institutions dealing with abuse.

  • mikeglossy

    Many are called but few are chosen.

  • nickwallmark

    buckminsterj,I posted a counter-argument about an hour ago, but unfortunately it has not shown up. If you are interested in reading it. Let me know.Thank you for your comments.

  • ravitchn

    It is precisely because the church is REACTIONARY, HOMOPHOBIC, ANTI-FEMINIST, ANTI-LIBERAL, ANTI-PROTESTANT, ANTI-DEMOCRATIC, and ANTI-MODERN that we love it and stick with it.

  • dnealesq

    Not only the Catholic Church but all of Christianity needs reformation. The marriage of fundamental protestantism and the Republican Party has produced a theology that has traded grace and the lessons of the Beatitudes for the ugliest and meanest social Darwinism one can imagine, while the remainder of the Protestant churhes remain silent. Christianity is in trouble–and unless it reforms itself, society will rightfully shove it aside for something else.

  • Apostrophe

    Well, Boulard, you’re welcome to join the Episcopalians in their “modernized” faith…

  • buckminsterj

    nickwallmark,Sure, please re-post, if not inconvenient. I’m off for the day (like many, I only screw around here while on the clock), so I can’t promise I’ll respond, but I will look for your comments tonight or tomorrow morning. Take care.

  • alvarovel

    I was educated by the Jesuits in High School and the university. I don’t see the future of the catholic church as pessimistic as father Boulad, for a simple reason the Church’s CEO is our lord Jesus Christ!!

  • swlewis

    When Gorbachev allowed Glasnost and Perestroika in the USSR, it led to an honest assessment of the foundations of that country. The country recognized it was facing a legitimacy crisis and could not survive by maintaining the status quo. The first thing the people did was to reject Stalinism. Many at that time wanted to continue to believe that the USSR could continue to exist by exorcising Stalin, but they came to realize that he was standing on Lenin’s shoulders. The whole thing came apart. The Chinese realized that they could sustain at least their rule by liberalizing the economy and not being so dogmatic regarding communism as Mao would have defined it. This is the only reason they survive today. I agree with the author that to survive, the catholics will both have to address their shortcomings and reinvent the church. To do otherwise is to accept the slow steady decline to oblivion. But thats not so bad. It was the most successful movement and business model in world history.

  • dwdave67

    All religion is a joke…From the suicide bombers of Islam, to the “chosen people” non-sense of judaism, to the Pope and his child-molestation enabling behavior while he wears Prada shoes…Religion is a business and the business of finding suckers to buy their particular brand of BS is good.Here is an idea religious people, grow up… and live your life by this simple prinicipal and the world’s problems go away… “Would I want this done to me?” its just that simple…We do not need a narsacistic god and their politicos that make money of the religion you subscribe to because it fits your lifestyle.

  • nickwallmark

    Buckminsterj,Thank you for your responses as well. Here is my counter-argument:“Is this your perception of atheism? If so, you misunderstand the term.”I assure you, I understand the term ‘atheism’ completely as a disbelief or denial of the existence of God or gods. Being that it is a belief that exists only to deny another system of beliefs, I stand by my characterization. Denial of existence is an acceptance of nothingness. Otherwise it would be a system of beliefs that offers a viable alternative.“I would argue that spirituality is in fact the suppression or perversion of intellect BY emotion, not a seperate phenomenon.”I don’t see these aspects of our perception as separate phenomenon, but rather parts of the sum total. I would disagree in your characterization as a suppression of intellect. You should consider which likely first gave early humans the ability to interpret the world around them. However, I will concede that many faithful in today’s society exist as proof to the contrary. We all have a varying level of understanding and expression. I have found in my experience that neither scientific discovery nor philosophical debate contradicts my understanding of God; rather it reveals a better understanding of his mysterious nature. I have also found that expression of faith (or the lack thereof) is most useful when done so constructively and not solely as an opposition to another’s beliefs.more…

  • gellyne_julia

    Religion can not save the world and mankind. Human need some changes of their own character and how we will change is by our own human revolution. Without faith, love and action, it’s useless to believe that there is an existing God. Pope. Patriarch, Bishop, Priest and Deacons can not helped people to change their life. Jesus has live a simple ways of life and teach a 2 commandments of God. We don’t need hypocrisy doing a good deeds and advertise in the TV, Newspapers and Internet just to ask for donations and charity. He will judge the living and the dead. No one else can judge us nor priests or pope. For they are humans not saints or sages. We don’t need your sermons and your teachings too. Angelin Gan – Philippines

  • nickwallmark

    Buckminsterj“Actually, one theory regarding the evolution of the religious impulse posits it as a byproduct, or misfiring, of a useful trait, though it is not in itself advantageous.”I would quote another theory that is based on beliefs that have existed for thousands of years and is accepted in cultures on every inhabited continent:“In many ways, throughout history down to the present day, men have given expression to their quest for God in their religious beliefs and behavior: in their prayers, sacrifices, rituals, meditations, and so forth. These forms of religious expression, despite the ambiguities they often bring with them, are so universal that one may well call man a religious being.” Catechism of the Catholic Church: Man’s Capacity for God.“I assume you mean ‘accumulation,’ because we are nowhere near the culmination of human knowledge (though a biblical literalist would likely argue otherwise).”You are correct, I misused the word. Also, I am in no way a biblical literalist.“But what happens when the knowledge of one age contradicts that of another?”This is exactly the point of the article, and an excellent argument for reform. Also, I don’t feel a refined understanding of knowledge is enough to dismiss all merit of a previous understanding.“Besides, even if we accept spirituality as a fundamental human trait (like selfishness or prejudice), that does not rquire us to condone or celebrate it.”It is the ignorant or destructive behavior of specific people that we should not condone or celebrate. Your point is not a sound argument for denying our own spiritual nature, nor the existence of God.I appreciate your thoughts, this has been an interesting exchange!

  • mcdonaldjames2

    Fr. Bolard wrote an intelligent article on the need for broad and deep reform of the Roman Catholic Church. It’s current problems with clerical pedophilia and cover up may well reflect the deeper spiritual malaise. The Church lacks relevancy, vitality, even spirituality. As an institution living in time the church has experienced many crises and decline of its spirit. It has usually found renewal from within, and sometimes from without if one considers the Protestant Reformation. Another post alluded to Gorbachov’s attempt to reform Soviet Communism. There reform shattered the entity, the Soviet State. Perhaps the Vatican is afraid of that sort of reform. One gets that impression from the way they have retreated from the Spirit of Vatican II.

  • douglaslbarber

    mcdonaldjames2 wrote “As an institution living in time the church has experienced many crises”.Are there institutions which live outside time?

  • douglaslbarber

    If gellyne_julia posts her comment 3,000 more times within the next 10 minutes, I’ll be convinced that her argument has merit. Otherwise, not so much.

  • costaricanet

    The current Pope and why was chosen for office etc. has much to do with his effectiveness at “handling” the abuse issue. Popes are traditionally appointed for life and I do not believe that resigning from office is a serious option. Conversely, this may become a great moment for the Church to come clean and rid their ranks of pedophiles and other hypocrites.But, I am not holding my breath, only time (and history) will tell ….

  • johng1

    The next pope, if there is one, should only wear jeans and a tee shirt, smoke from a ritual bong everyday, and have two or three righteous looking earth mamas as wives/caretakers.

  • seasalt

    Faith in a Fiction is Foolish!

  • tslats

    That’s one.How about it Archdiocese of Washington priests .. anyone else?

  • usapdx

    Many are called but few are chosen. Well the got more than a few bad apples and some are on top of the tree but they are the cover up varity that blow smoke.

  • fabricmaven1

    The Holy Catholic Church is not capable of seeing the harm it has imposed in any Century. It is always dismissed with a wave of the Papal arm. All rational people are now being confronted with the consequences of ignoring fundamentalism. Religion is pure perversion when taken to its extremes. I am disgusted at all of the apologists who want to protect Pope Benedict from the harm he has done to the children who have suffered at his hand. The Catholic Church and all Fundamentalist Religions will gladly offer up their victims to ignominy than stand ready to answer to their institutional disgrace. To state this more plainly, no matter how base the crimes against our children, God has never “dropped a dime” against the offenders. I can only assume that there is no “God”. It is left to the thinking among us to take the “perps” to civil court and sue them out of business.

  • mcdonaldjames2

    just a brief reply to douglas barber’s point about my comment that the “church is an institution living in time” and “is there an institution that doesn’t live in time?” well, of course not. I was trying to suggest that the church and its believers lose sight of the limitations of its humanity and timeboundedness. Too much is made of its eternal mission and spirital transcendence.

  • digiphase

    The church (read: Pope) will respond to this letter in two days: 1) “discipline” the writer, perhaps with excommunication, 2) ignore it and continue to stonewall.

  • YEAL9

    Obviously ordination in any religion is not assurance of good behavior !!!!!www.eutimes.net/category/criticism/pedophilia/”Yet another prominent Orthodox rabbi has been charged with sexual abuse. This time it is Rabbi Mordechai Elon, one of the foremost rabbinic leaders of the Israeli Orthodox movement and former rosh yeshiva at the flagship Yeshivat HaRav, where last year a Palestinian mounted an assault which left several students dead. The result was that students of the yeshiva and other far right Jews went on a rampage and tried to burn down the home of the family of the perpetrator of the attack. Elon’s brother is Benny, a former MK for a far-right pro-settler party.At one time the rabbi was so renowned he’d hoped to be named chief rabbi. Alas, that hope is all but dashed as he was charged several years ago with abusing boys at his yeshiva:The panel later said that two people, whose complaints alleged acts from about 25 years ago, had been under 18 at the time.More recent alleged acts involved students of Elon who were 18 or older. Since its initial disclosure, the panel reports having received one more complaint of an alleged underage encounter…What is unusual about this case is that a splinter group of the Orthodox community is taking the position that the entire prosecution is an attempt to destroy rabbinic authority and the Orthodox movement. It calls for refusal to cooperate with state authorities (or to deal with the charge through a beyt din).”From: “Facing calls to curb child sex abuse within its churches, in June the Southern Baptist Convention — the largest U.S. religious body after the Catholic Church — urged local hiring committees to conduct federal background checks but rejected a proposal to create a central database of staff and clergy who have been either convicted of or indicted on charges of molesting minors. The SBC decided against such a database in part because its principle of local autonomy means it cannot compel individual churches to report any information. And while the headlines regarding churches and pedophilia remain largely focused on Catholic parishes, the lack of hierarchical structure and systematized record-keeping in most Protestant churches makes it harder not only for church leaders to impose standards, but for interested parties to track allegations of abuse. “

  • alias1

    This letter to the Pope is more than 3 years old and has already appeared in other papers.Sadly, Fr Boulad has not received a reply to his courteous and relevant suggestions.95% of child abuse occurs within the family. Schaum, 3.31pm Tuesday, you can hardly castrate everyone as they announce their engagement, or even at the wedding.

  • David Waters

    thanks for pointing out when the letter was written. i added that to the post.editor