04 November 2019

Battle lines drawn in the Catholic Church

A bitter internal conflict is escalating within one of the most powerful global organizations in existence.

It's now just over a week since the end of the Catholic Church's Amazon synod, and while the "final document" is long on evocative rhetoric and short on simple declarative statements, it does include at least some of the recommendations which traditionalist Catholics had feared, such as consideration of female deacons (a step toward women priests), ordination of married men as priests, and an "Amazonian rite" adapting Catholic ritual to Amazonian culture.  The synod has advisory powers only, and the Pope will make the final decision on these innovations; and they are suggested for the Amazon region only.  But traditionalists fear that, if adopted, they will rapidly spread throughout the global Catholic Church -- an embrace of heresy, as they see it.

So far their opposition to this has taken the form mostly of praying and of hoping that Jesus or some other supernatural figure will step in and straighten it all out.  But if the Pope and the hierarchy go ahead and implement such changes, and they do indeed spread to the Church in the US and Europe, what will they do, seeing the one true Church accept what they consider heretical practices?  I can hardly wait to find out.  Talk of schism has been floating around for months now, along with occasional lurid fantasies about seizing control of the Vatican and casting out the evil "heretic Pope".  At the very least, it's clear that if the Church does ordain married priests and/or women priests, many traditionalists will not accept them or the rituals they perform as being legitimate.  It's going to be a mess.

For now, however, the strongest traditionalist ire seems to be reserved for the "Pachamama" statuettes which were displayed at various Vatican sites during the synod, and the apparent pagan ritual performed around them during the opening ceremony.  If there's one thing they loathe even more than heresy, it's any whiff of paganism infiltrating the Church.  After two men removed several of the statuettes a couple of weeks ago and threw them into the Tiber river, many traditionalists and even a few high-ranking clerics praised the perpetrators to the skies, some comparing them to Jesus driving the money-changers from the temple.  If you doubt the intensity of the emotion involved, check out this breathless performance:

Remember, those "high-ranking churchmen" who the bishop says "defiled the Christian name" with their "cowardly and treacherous acts" include the Pope, and everybody knows it.  In an authoritarian, hierarchical institution like the Catholic Church, this is explosive talk.

A few days after the theft, Pope Francis announced that the statues had been retrieved from the river (so Pachamama was resurrected on the third day?), and the Vatican reportedly wants to press charges against the thieves -- one of whom identified himself this morning -- so the difference of views on this point seems insurmountable.

The conflict which the synod has brought to a head has been simmering at least since the reforms of the "Vatican II" council of 1962-1965.  It's emotively expressed by this short video:

It took me two or three viewings to decipher this jumble of bizarre imagery, but I gather that, for the first 2½ minutes, the color pictures represent the evil modernist practices while the black-and-white pictures represent the traditional ones.  The aggressive rhetoric, and the ending evocation of the bloodthirsty Crusaders of the Dark Ages, are not a good sign for where this kind of thinking is headed.

One other point has struck me.  Traditionalists defending the men who threw out the Pachamama statuettes have invoked such ancient acts as St. Boniface marching into the midst of a pagan Germanic tribe and chopping down their sacred oak tree, or the large-scale Christian destruction of pagan statues and temples in late Roman times -- aside from those temples they defiled by converting them to their own use.  In the twenty-first century, they still regard these acts of desecration against the sacred things of other religions as noble and praiseworthy.  As Christianity continues to decline across the Western world, the day will come when their sacred things are at our mercy.  When that day does arrive, do not forget, and do not forgive.


Blogger Debra She Who Seeks said...

Misogynist bullies, all of them.

05 November, 2019 04:37  
Blogger Mike said...

"...Catholics had feared, such as..."
It's about time. Actually, it's way past time.

05 November, 2019 12:35  
Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

I can’t with the Catholic Church. Just can’t.
That cult needs it’s comeuppance. STAT.


05 November, 2019 18:22  
Blogger Adam said...

The last time Catholics tolerated change, they lost the ultimate battle to Martin Luther.

06 November, 2019 16:32  
Blogger RO said...

As you know I'm Catholic, and even though I went through all the ceremonies as a kid, I'm not a strict one. I'm that person that's pretty laid back and can accept change. I even visit other churches with friends to learn about other religions, and have done that most of my life. As long as no one gets violent, I'm cool with it. Interested in seeing how this all plays out.

07 November, 2019 02:36  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

It's a thoroughly nasty and twisted cult, and the sooner it loses its grip on the hundreds of millions of people it holds in thrall, the better.

Luther was a disaster for the Church because he caused a massive and irreversible split. I'm hoping something like that will happen again.

07 November, 2019 03:18  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

RO: (Didn't see/post your comment until after writing the response above.) I hope it's always been clear that I differentiate between the religions I oppose and most of the individuals who are in those religions. Unfortunately it seems to me that, while individual believers can be tolerant, institutional religion has its intolerance hard-wired -- the calls for hate and violence against gays will always remain there in Leviticus and the New Testament, for example. Hence the stance I take toward the issue.

07 November, 2019 03:26  

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