What is the cause for the decline in the West in membership and respect for the church? Should the church hold firm to tradition? Or should it adapt? Is its decline inevitable?
Maureen Gaffney is a clinical psychologist and is chairwoman of the National Economic and Social Forum which advises the Irish government. Her op-ed Church’s view of sex the root cause of its troubles, on the decline of the Catholic Church in Ireland especially in the wake of the sex abuse scandals, appears in the Irish Times:
… the Catholic Church is a powerful homo-social institution, where men are submissive to a hierarchical authority and where women are incidental and dispensable. It’s the purest form of a male hierarchy, reflected in the striking fact that we all collectively refer it to as “the Hierarchy”.
It has all the characteristics of the worst kind of such an institution: rigid in social structure; preoccupied by power; ruthless in suppressing internal dissent; in thrall to status, titles, and insignia, with an accompanying culture of narcissism and entitlement; and at a great psychological distance from human intimacy and suffering.
Most strikingly, it is a culture which is fearful and disdainful of women. As theologian William M Shea observes, “fear of women, and perhaps hatred of them, may well be just what we have to work out of the Catholic system”. Until that institutional misogyny is confronted, the church will be unable to confront the unresolved issue of its teaching on sexuality and the sexuality of the clergy. Instead, celibacy will continue to be used as a prop to the dysfunctional homo-social hierarchy. The hierarchy will continue to project its fear of women on to an obsessive effort to exert control over their wombs, their fertility and their unruly sexual desires. That is the psychology of exclusion.
Her faith in the church is at risk, but not her faith in the Christian message. Read it all.
In an unrelated development, over at The Telegraph Gerald Warren blames Vatican II:
Let us set the record straight. This filthy abomination was a scandal of the post-Vatican II, open-windows, relevant, touchy-feely (often, it seems, inappropriately so) Catholic Church. So let the ecumaniacs, the liturgical animators, the Easter People take ownership of it and desist from blackening the reputation of a decent prelate and, by implication, of the unchanging Church that sustained Ireland through centuries of oppression.