POPE BENEDICT XVI has denounced the predator priests with due severity, but he cannot credibly chastise their enabler bishops because he has been one of them. The whole Catholic Church seems to be in crisis, but what is really at stake here is the collapse not of Catholicism, but of Catholic fundamentalism.
Fundamentalism is the raising of religious barricades against tides of change…
In the past, bishops were elected by local churches. Uniformity on core doctrines was balanced by diversity on more marginal issues, with real differences shaped by regional culture. Bishops had significant autonomy, and acting together in General Councils they exercised supreme Catholic authority. All of this changed during the culture wars of the 19th century, when revolutionary movements identified the church (inaccurately) with the targeted aristocracy. The pope was a supreme ruler only over the papal territories in Italy, and when he lost those in the humiliations of 1870, Catholic bishops rallied to him at the simultaneous Vatican Council I. His political collapse led to his spiritual elevation, with the bishops only then promulgating papal infallibility. Paradoxically, the pope’s claim to supreme Catholic authority, even over a council, rests on the council’s declaration. Meanwhile, Vatican-dominated Catholicism, even understood as a rejection of modern trends, embodied the most modern trend of all — a Catholic version of 19th century nationalism organized around all-powerful strong men, like Bismarck and Garibaldi. Read complete article - by JAMES CARROLL - The Boston Globe
James Carroll is Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at Suffolk University, a columnist for the Boston Globe, and a regular contributor to The Daily Beast. His recent book (2009) is Practicing Catholic, a tour de force look at what it means to be Catholic today – and an argument for the Church’s on-going reform. Read more
James Carroll is the author of Practicing Catholic, which Hans Kung calls "Brilliantly written, passionate, and vivid." Carroll is also the author of ten novels and five previous works of non-fiction, including the National Book Award winning An American Requiem, the New York Times bestselling Constantine's Sword, now an acclaimed documentary, and House of War, which won the first PEN-Galbraith Award. Read more – Home page of James Carroll