Sexual Scandals Reveal A Problem of Belief

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by Robert B. Greving,

from Crisis Magazine,

Sooner or later, in some way or another, there will be an investigation as a result of the revelations concerning Cardinal McCarrick. The idea seems to be to discover what, within the structure of the Church, went wrong to allow for the abuse scandal to happen.

I’m not certain that’s the problem. The problem, to me, is not one of structure, but of belief, or the lack thereof. In other words, we could replace every bishop and set up any number of “oversight committees” composed of any combination of laity and clergy you want, but, in the end, that won’t solve the problem unless the persons involved—from pope to parishioner—believe what we profess.

Ideas and beliefs have consequences. Different ideas on the human person will lead to different ways of acting toward human persons. Paul VI was prophetically clear on this in Humanae Vitae; if anything, he understated the case. The secular culture, though, has been aggressively logical in their illogic. Read the Supreme Court opinions in Griswold vs. Connecticut (allowing contraception), Roe vs. Wade (allowing abortion), Planned Parenthood vs. Casey (which defined liberty as “the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life”), and Obergefell vs. Hodges (allowing for homosexual “marriage”). They follow like dominoes.

And so those, including clergy, who accept (and by “accept” I mean not doing everything in their power to combat the idea) that contraception is a personal matter will accept that abortion is a personal matter and will accept that homosexuality is a personal matter. These same people, saddled with the idea that the Church is a social institution and not a belief, do not inquire into “personal matters.”

I believe the main disease in the Church, and in the world, has been, is, and will be for a while, matters of the human person, namely those “personal matters” that make us all uncomfortable. This is also where the Church presents a radically different “cure” than just about all of Protestantism. Some Protestant denominations may still believe that sexual relations outside of marriage are wrong; all have countenanced birth control; most have turned a blind eye to, if not sanctioned, abortion; and just about all have accepted homosexual relations as “normal.” Why should I be Catholic, and why should I pursue a vocation in the Catholic Church, when, frankly, for a lot less cost, I can be something else? Because we have the cure for the disease.

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