With the death of Cardinal Carlo Martini, SJ the Church has lost a prophetic voice and a wonderful bishop. But in a final interview before his death he gave us another gift, challenging us to change. Martini says the Church is “200 years out-of date.” Reuters reports his words:
“Our culture has aged, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up, our rituals and our cassocks are pompous.”
Continuing he said, “The Church must admit its mistakes and begin a radical change, starting from the pope and the bishops. The paedophilia scandals oblige us to take a journey of transformation.”
John Allen translated the whole of this powerful interview in his NCR column today online. Cardinal Martini gave the interview to a fellow Jesuit, intending it to come out as his final testimony after his death. Some wish he had done it while still alive. Because of the Cardinal’s failing health, he probably did not need the publicity or the controversy that would have attended speaking out so truthfully.
But will the hierarchy listen to one of their own? One would have thought that 20 years of pedophilia scandals, the gut-wrenching suffering of thousands of victims and their anguished families, messy lawsuits, diocesan bankruptcies, and loss of credibility in the arena of moral teaching would have been enough. Apparently not.
Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer working with pedophilia victims, has been a steady voice in trying to get the bishops to wake up. He has been exceptionally candid and courageous. Two video interviews with him are worth watching. In the first, he names bishops who should be prosecuted for crimes against children and speaks of how his work in this field has affected his own faith. In the second, he says “They ought to sell the Vatican to the Mormons or to Disney or something and go out and start all over again.”
Organized religion these days gets as bad a rap as politicians. People don’t seem to expect truth from politicians, and bishops who align themselves with politicians walk a fine line, dancing the tightrope of our revered national tradition of separation of church and state. But as bishops try to hang on to their teaching authority, people are voting with their feet. Our churches are emptying. Does anyone care?
Start all over again. How would we do that? Feels very daunting.
It’s time for transformation.
You may wish to join IHM Sr. Nancy Sylvester, talking about “Transformation in a Time of Uncertainty” on Saturday, September 28 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 7000 35th Avenue SW, 98126. The workshop begins at 9:00 AM and goes until 4:00 PM. It is sponsored by the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center. Ticket information is available on their website.
There is an ancient proverb that says “In times of crisis, learn something new.” If enough of us learn something new and live from the truth of it, transformation will happen.