Thursday, October 26, 2006

The institutional church and the status quo

Reflection by Fr. John Shuster

I think that for the most part Catholics are kept uninformed and spiritually uneducated by the institutional church. It is part of maintaining the clergy/laity class structure of ruler and subject.

They are taught the simple "get your ticket punched" sacramental church life. Easy quid pro quo institutionalism works well among the uneducated simple people of the Middle Ages and the 21st Century.

Some church-going Catholics get into true spirituality, but it is pretty much considered fluff, a little hobby of theirs, not mainline core belief. The priests have the real spirituality, not those lay people. Mass attendance, envelopes, and political uniformity - that's where the real American RC church business lies. It's real religion that you can take to the bank - physically and spiritually.

Catholics are made spiritually codependent to the bishop/priest's whimmy approval. Observe what is really happening - what people are really doing in a measurable and documentable sense. It is clear to me that Tridentine theology is still alive and well. They might as well turn the altars back around so we can all worship God behind and through the holy priest, the bishop, and the pope.

Like an insurance policy for eternity, Catholics are taught that if they pray, pay, and obey the institution in every tiny detail they will go to heaven. Parishioners don't want to ruin their decades-long investment, tenuous and specious as it might be. When death looms, people will grab at anything. They understand that panic, long before they die, and the intuition successfully plays on that fear with an insurance policy. Priests can rape their children yet people will make room for such behaviour because they don't want to lose their investment in the afterlife.

With the sex abuse settlements making the news for the past four years, many Catholics now know that their local parish does not legally belong to them but to the bishop, so the bishop can close it at his whim and force them out of their parish home. Deep down, each parishioner has the fear that they'll lose their spiritual home, the home where they buried their parents and saw their children receive their First Holy Communion, if they anger the bishop or if they support survivors to the point where really big money will be owed by their arch/diocese. Ask thousands of parishioners in Boston whose churches were sold out from underneath them on a private real estate market so that they could not buy them back and get married CITI priests to staff them. People don't want to lose their "tradition" of servitude.

The Vatican has constructed an airtight system, protected by our American law, where they can sit on a mountain of money and lead whatever lifestyle they want with relative impunity. There's always plenty of money and high powered lawyers and political connections to get them out of any trouble. The bishop of Santa Rosa has yet to be indicted for helping a pedophile priest escape to Mexico after abusing a child - this year!

The smart people realize how powerless and slighted they really are, and not a few of them leave to go to other more accountable church systems. Investment Catholics don't want to deal with what they deep-down know is going on. The real sheep Catholics don't even know what's really happening. They just want to know what time Midnight Mass is on Christmas Eve. They all keep giving money to support their priests' compartmentalized lives - and their own short-shrifted oppression.

When we married priest couples and supporters speak up prophetically, we get stomped on by the slave owners - and their slaves.

The Vatican has a good game going. It's really hard to beat. It is resilient, idealism based despite the lived realities, and well funded from multiple large revenue sources that include church operations, investments, Catholic charity operations that take administrative cuts, hospital systems, and multi-level educational enterprises around the world. The Vatican is the largest multinational corporation in the world - and probably the richest.

How do we change the game? How do we redirect people from the fleshpots of Egypt yet still sustain the goodness of our RC tradition that has been hijacked by a sexually out of control hierarchy?

1 comment:

Rev. Fr. Christopher J. Repp, S.T.L. said...

Wonderful article by Fr. Shuster. He really capsulizes in a nutshell what the Institutional R. C. Church is all about, lies, obstruction of justice, fear, the status quo and keeping the money rolling in to keep the wheels of the fleshpots of Egypt rolling on.

It is so true, a sick,demented priest or bishop can rape or sodomize our children and the "faithful" (or so they wish to call themselves, but I have my doubts because they just look the other way)simply say "well that could never happen" because they truly are dumb and all they want is their assurance of a place in eternal life. The bishops and priests of the institution have them right where they want them,in a checkmate, they are frozen with fear to move. The Institution over the centuries has constructed a system of fear and guilt that says "pray,pay and obey" or else you're out.Oh,and God forbid you're out, Heavens to mergatroit,
St.Peter might not let you in the pearly gates!Then where are you going to go?

Well my friends,I say this with all the purpose and strength as a Priest,educated in Rome for five years, who has seen all the dirt and corruption on the inside, as well as the beauty, and has lived to make it out alive with my Faith intact and the closest thing to my Heart, have no fear. As Our Lord said with such promise, we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Don't be afraid to speak up to your local priest or bishop when you see or hear of the coruption with which this institution is sadly rife with. As a baptized Catholic you have EVERY right to speak from your heart and demand change.DO IT!! They can do nothing to you.And if they dare threaten you, simply say: "How dare you,who do you think you are? You were ordained to serve us,not lord over us and make us live in fear of you and your so called power. We demand change.It will happen." Don't just be a submissive sheep; don't just pray, pay and obey. Stop the cycle of a system that has nothing,I mean nothing to do with the Gospel and what Our Beloved Lord intended.I'm doing it and thousands of other of my brother Priests and faithful are making the changes. It just takes one person,and we have no better example that Christ the Lord,who came not to abolish the
lawbut to fulfill it. Build it and He will come! Pace e bene!