I cannot read the original Italian article to make an assessment anything like Robert Moynihan’s piece on the gay lobby/blackmail/college of cardinal news bomb of the past few days. His “Letter #19″ strikes me as sensible commentary.
Toward the end of the piece, a link to which Jimmy Mac posted in the comments today, there were two points that struck me. Mr Moynihan:
I think it is critical to discern whether the Church and her leaders are: (a) being slandered by the attacks of her enemies, or (b) whether human weaknesses, sins and betrayals are preventing the Church from carrying out her mission effectively, and subjecting her to forces from outside her. It is part of my work as a writer about the Church to try to discern these things.
My own sense is that (a) and (b) are both happening. I think the former is about twenty, perhaps thirty percent. But I also think most of the digging for scandal is part of the lamentable modern process of driving up subscriptions and sales to generate a corporate profit. Bad news attracts attention. And the modern media in all its forms, including the blogosphere, gains a currency by drawing attention.
And I think that human weakness is always with us. The more insular sinners are, the less likely they are to be confronted and engage in personal repentance and reform. Is there a Nathan who can confront David in today’s Church? Shouldn’t there be?
A word on blackmail:
Few things could be more dangerous to the Church than that her leaders be subject to blackmail. If a friend or member of my family would be subject to blackmail, I would move heaven and earth to help that friend or family member to be free of such evil tentacles.
There are serious influences other than blackmail. We know that monied interests get access to the hierarchy. Resources can be scarce in today’s world. The Church competes with many other endeavors that ask a charity dollar of us. Some such endeavors amass great wealth.
When I read the article I was thinking less, “Uh oh, blackmail,” and more “Uh oh, money and influence.” Lobbyists. The curia is beset by people willing to trade currency for favors. And yes, I think such tentacles are a danger. They seemed to blind one pope to the danger presented by the LC.
My own suspicion is that this story reflects some nuanced aspects not easy to see in the catchy headlines and the panic. It might be overstated, but there still is a lot of ungodly stuff going on. How to discern which lay people, clergy, and religious groups have an honest intent to speak a mond to a curial official, or a cardinal? Or who is just looking for influence?