Readings for 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time: PRV 9:1-6; PS 34:2-7; EPH 5: 15-20; JN 6:56
Ironically, I felt some relief at last week’s horrendous revelations about the 300 Pennsylvania priests who sexually victimized more than 1000 children and young people over the last 70 years. The relief was similar to what I feel each day now as President Trump spews his venomous lies and implements his cruel policies to restore “America” to its good old days before the post-World II achievements of blacks, women, gays, immigrants, and social justice advocates.
I mean, the veils have finally been pulled back in both politics and religion. In this Sunday homily, though, it’s the latter that will be my focus, since I want to connect today’s Gospel reading with the priesthood and pedophilia.
Let me begin, however, with politics and its scandals that mirror and illuminate those of the church.
Politically, the deceits of Donald Trump have done us all a huge favor. They’ve forced us to face undeniably what our presidents, teachers, and media enablers have been doing for centuries. The revelations cannot be denied. What Mr. Trump is doing, they all have done. The only difference is that Trump’s predecessors didn’t admit it all so openly. But they’ve all lied to us about wars, elections, American ideals, and about their personal lives.
For instance, in the light of Mr. Trump, it’s now indisputable that the entire Republican Party is corrupt just like him. (The Democrats are not far behind.) By endorsing his racism, they reveal their own racism. They all routinely lie; they enrich themselves at public expense; they practice nepotism; they break laws, dishonor the Constitution, care only about their rich donors, and don’t give a damn about the rest of us.
The voting system is rigged against us. Republicans don’t even want everyone to vote. Mitch McConnell’s refusal to follow the Constitution after the death of Antonin Scalia, illegally stacked the Supreme Court in favor of corporations. For that reason, the Court’s decisions should all be considered invalid.
In other words, every branch of government – including the Fourth Estate – has been corrupted. As a result, we’re living in something like the Soviet Union, where NOTHING the government or media says can be taken at face value. (In fact, it never should have been.) Thank you, Donald Trump, for making all of that indisputable! It frees us up to work for outright revolution.
It’s the same with the Catholic Church, with Protestants not far behind. The widespread pedophilia among the clergy reveals that the faithful have been duped by the very people we were taught to trust as God’s representatives. (If there were at least 300 pedophilic priests in one state, how many have there been in the other 49?) All priests and former priests are now under suspicion.
And the hell of it is that these were the very teachers whose principal moral obsessions centered on sexual morality! They worried us about impure thoughts, pornography, masturbation, homosexuality, petting, fornication, adultery, birth control, abortion, and divorce. Since Augustine, they made us all feel guilty about the second strongest drive (after self-preservation) that humans possess (i.e. propagation of the species). In the confessional, we told them of our most intimate failings in that area. And they shared their sage advice on how to overcome them. These sex-obsessed “celibates” even advised couples about their married lives.
Could we have been more deceived? And what made all of that possible?
Those questions bring me to today’s Gospel whose content has traditionally be used by the Catholic Church to persuade the faithful that priests have quasi-magical powers. According to Catholic teaching, priests can change little wafers into the actual body of Christ. They can change wine into his blood. Similarly, in the confessional, their words can remove sin and open the gates of heavenly after-life to those who would otherwise be condemned to eternity in hell.
Can you imagine anything more powerful than that? No wonder priests were revered, and their faults, sins, and crimes overlooked!
More specifically, in today’s third reading, John the Evangelist has Jesus say
“Amen, amen, I say to you . . my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”
However, as I noted in last week’s reflections, the words John invents about eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood could not possibly have been spoken by the Jewish Jesus to a Jewish audience. After all, drinking any kind of blood – not to mention human blood – was expressly forbidden by the Mosaic Law.
Nonetheless, by the time John wrote his Gospel (anywhere between about 90 C.E. and 110) the evangelist’s audience (predominantly non-Jews) was highly influenced by Gnostic beliefs. Gnostics – and John’s audience – were all quite familiar with “dying and rising Gods” and with the ritual practice of metaphorically eating the Gods’ flesh and drinking the Gods’ blood by sharing bread and wine. So, to them, Jesus could be explained in precisely those terms, even if it meant putting into the mouth of Jesus words that he could never have spoken.
Yet, the “real presence” that even John was concerned about had nothing to do with the containment of an infinite God within a wafer or sip of wine. John’s audience was worried about connecting with the long-dead Master from Galilee. How might they do this? That was their question. John’s response was “Do what Jesus did: share food and drink.” And he wasn’t talking about “the Mass.” Sharing of bread with the hungry is what makes Jesus present. In fact, “bread” and Jesus’ “flesh,” “wine” and Jesus’ “blood” are all interchangeable terms. It’s the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup with the poor that makes Jesus present.
Catholic fundamentalism and literalist reading of scripture denied such understandings as heresy. And that enabled priests to masquerade as magicians and eventually gave them the power to determine the eternal destinies of their charges. It gave them immunity in their own eyes and even in the eyes of their victims.
After the pedophilia revelations, who can believe any of that?
However, we shouldn’t be discouraged. I mean, realizing our deception frees us up, doesn’t it? Just as in the field of politics, it can help liberate us from the childish beliefs that ignorant, hypocritical liars have foisted upon us. I mean, what can we believe that either our politicians or our clergy have told us about ANYTHING?
What I’m suggesting is that it’s all up for grabs now. We have to think for ourselves, not only about our presidents, but even about God.
And that’s true freedom.
So, what should Catholics who still care do about the latest expositions of duplicity? For starters, here are some suggestions:
• Admit that the Catholic Church has been generally corrupted by the pedophilic scandal; like the U.S. government, it is a crime syndicate
• More specifically, recognize that the priesthood along with bishops, cardinals, and the papacy itself have been perverted
• In that light, boycott the church until it calls a General Council to institute reforms from the top-down
• Realizing that the pedophilic scandal would not have occurred under the aegis of women, demand not only their ordination, but their empowerment to replace men in roles of church leadership including at the highest level
• Similarly, demand the abolition of required clerical celibacy for Catholic priests
Yes: It is undeniable that the lies of Mr. Trump and the sins of our clergy have initiated a new era in our country and in the world. That shouldn’t depress us. Rather, it should inspire us to completely throw off the old and embrace new possibilities both politically and in the realm of faith.
8 thoughts on “This Just in: Both U.S. Government & Catholic Church Confirmed as Crime Syndicates”
Wonderful writing and fine thinking, but you make the common logical mistake of false equivalency and then curse ‘both their houses’. You presented tangible evidence of the evil of the Catholic Church and propose the solution is in revising its unique priestly rules. You cant then blame all other churches which have not been repeatedly shown to be a gang of pedophiles nor practice celibacy and exclude women, presumably the cause of priestly pedophilia. Similarly, you cant find the Republican party guilty of racisim, and fundamental corruption based on manifest events and then in passing claim the Democrats are nearly as bad. Based on what evidence? All human institutions are subject to many forms of corruption. Some are better governed then others, Some by the nature of their ideology attract more people of evil intent than others. Evil is not found equally everywhere. You owe both Democrats and Protestants an apology. Ron Levin
Thanks for your gentle reminder, Ron, that I must be more careful. I agree. In my remark about Protestants, I was thinking about white Evangelicals who represent the most powerful element in the contemporary Republican Party. Their double standards and obsession with sexual matters are causes for concern. I was also thinking that mainline Democrats are as much in service to corporate interests (and consequently not in service to the rest of us) as their Republican counterparts.
The truth is supremely beautiful, especially when it shines it’s light into the darkest places. Only the truth can make us free from all the lies we have unwittingly imbibed from our corrupt culture. That freedom is the basis for a true revolution in our thinking and behavior.
The belief in authority is a deep cause of all our delusions. Krishnamurti said, “There is no authority!” The icons and dogmas of authority based belief systems must be smashed and thrown out of one’s mind. This is the foundation of all true revolution – acknowledging and rejecting the false authority of our conditioning, whether it is religious, scientific, political, or whatever.
Your reminder is so important, Mike. Our training and education has made us over-reverent towards all forms of authority. We need to exchange devotion towards the truth of authority for the authority of truth.
“Beyond (your) ideas of good and bad, there is a field. I’ll met you there.” ~Rumi
Indeed, in that field is the only place where we can really meet Soul to Soul.
“The heart of the true revolutionary is filled with love.” ~Che Guevara
Love is liberating. The true revolutionary is not full of schemes to control people, but simply to set them free.
Posting this from the National Catholic Register here, because it is relevant to the topic.
“In an extraordinary 11-page written testament, a former apostolic nuncio to the United States has accused several senior prelates of complicity in covering up …allegations of sexual abuse, and has claimed that Pope Francis knew about sanctions imposed on then-Cardinal McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI but chose to repeal them.
“Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, 77, who served as apostolic nuncio in Washington D.C. from 2011 to 2016, said that in the late 2000s, Benedict had “imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis” and that Viganò personally told Pope Francis about those sanctions in 2013.
“Archbishop Viganò said in his written statement, simultaneously released to the Register and other media….that Pope Francis “continued to cover” for McCarrick and not only did he “not take into account the sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on him” but also made McCarrick “his trusted counselor….”
“Archbishop Viganò, who said his “conscience dictates” that the truth be known as “the corruption has reached the very top of the Church’s hierarchy,” ended his testimony by calling on Pope Francis and all of those implicated in the cover up of Archbishop McCarrick’s abuse to resign. “
McCarrick traveled to China, apparently…. it would be interesting to know how Chinese Catholics are responding to this
“Monsignor Jean-François Lantheaume, the former first counsellor at the apostolic nunciature in Washington D.C., has said that the former nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, told “the truth” in his explosive statement released to the press …..Viganò says that he met McCarrick in June 2013 and was told by the then-cardinal, “The pope received me yesterday, tomorrow I am going to China.” In a subsequent meeting with Francis, Viganò says he warned the pope about the long list of allegations against McCarrick but that the Holy Father did not respond…”
Of course, Vigano is a reactionary appalled by Francis’ criticism of “clericalism” and by his insistence that the church make a “preferential option for the poor.” In my opinion, Vigano is not really interested in the victims of pedophilia, but in undermining the church and social reforms sought by Francis in Evangelii Gaudium and Laudato Si’.