Friday, February 4, 2011

I've learned not to be surprised by Catholic theologians

The web has been abuzz here lately about why the Catholic Church is essentially floundering numbers-wise.  Sure, there are parts of the world where Catholicism is growing - but no more than other religious devotions are growing.  And in many parts traditionally held in Catholic practice - Europe, United States, S. America in general - the numbers are not pleasant.  People are leaving the Church, and new converts are dwindling.  I know, things can change, and they probably will.  But still, as of now, things could look better.  So why? Why? Why?  That was the question. 

I'm no expert, though I have some ideas.  But at the risk of being to forward, let me suggest at least one reason: This story.  Another version is here. So around a third of German Catholic theologians have come out and said it's time for the Church to soften its stance on homosexual relations, women's ordinations, and priestly celibacy. And the reason:
The professors said that they no longer wanted to stay quiet in the face of child sex abuse scandals that came to light last year and plunged the Catholic Church into an unprecedented crisis.
So, things that had absolutely nothing to do with the sex abuse crisis are addressed.  Nobody with more than a kindergarten education has tried to link celibacy or the absence of women priests with the sex abuse scandal. It's just not relevant.  The overwhelming evidence is that the vast majority of abuse happens by men who are in relationships, happens despite sexual orientation, and is capable of happening by women (though most male journalists seem more turned on by the later stories than appalled by them). 

Therefore, we should change all of these things.  Why not solve the Church's problems by taking entirely irrelevant subjects and changing them because of a scandal that was not connected to any of them, since most Protestant denominations that have embraced those suggested changes are all but dying away.  There you go.  When you want a winning basketball team, who better to learn from than the Cleveland Cavaliers?

Of course remember, Germany was the birthplace of Theological Liberalism, and a primary mover and shaker in the secular philosophies and academic theories of the 19th and 20th century.  It does our secularized, post-religious society good to make us think that Germany was a hotbed of religious fanaticism.  But fact is, by the dawn of the 20th century, Germany had embraced just about every post-Christian, post-religious, liberal theological secular philosophical viewpoint on the planet.  So these fellows may just being following in the footsteps of those intellectual geniuses who brought such a paradise on earth to Germany and its environs that last time around.

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