(This is Neil)
I’m looking for a word. Perhaps there isn’t such a word. Maybe there is. I think that there should be such a word. But let me clarify: I’m not looking for this word because I want to repeat it endlessly, as part of a marketing strategy, to try to gradually shape your view of reality. I’m interested in precision.
As part of a Liturgy of Repentance at Dublin’s St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Cardinal Séan O’Malley of Boston just said the following (my emphasis):
Jesus is always on the side of the victim, bringing compassion and mercy. Jesus is not just the healer in the Gospel. He identifies with the sick, suffering, homeless, all innocent victims of violence and abuse and all survivors of sexual abuse. The Parable ends with injunction; ‘Go and do likewise!’; just as Jesus turns His love and compassion to those who have been violently attacked or sexually abused. We want to be part of a Church that puts survivors, the victims of abuse first, ahead of self-interest, reputation and institutional needs.
Others have pointed out the disastrous consequences of focusing on “self-interest, reputation and institutional needs.” For instance, in Russell Shorto’s recent story about the Irish Church in the New York Times Magazine, the Murphy Commission is quoted as saying that the “interests of church officials ‘were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the church, and the preservation of its assets.’” All other considerations were “subordinated to these priorities.”
And, of course, Pope Benedict’s Pastoral Letter to the Catholics in Ireland mentioned “a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal, resulting in failure to apply existing canonical penalties and to safeguard the dignity of every person.”
Do we have a word for this sort of “misplaced concern” for the appearance of the church? I refer to a superficial fascination with the church as universal, timeless, free from contamination, with a hierarchy immune to any possible confusion coming from undifferentiation – perhaps all to better serve as a system of control over its own members and the wider society.
This “misplaced concern” seems to be theologically problematic. Obviously, it has prevented us from recognizing that “Jesus is always on the side of the victim.” (Cardinal Schönborn: “When the victims now speak, then God speaks to us …”) And it seems quite possible that it is rooted in a desire to escape from vulnerability and mortality.
But do we have a specific word for it? Again, it really seems like we should …
about Todd FlowerdayA Roman Catholic lay person, married (since 1996), with one adopted child (since 2001). I serve in worship and spiritual life in a midwestern university parish.
about John Donaghy
John is a lay missionary since 2007 with a parish in western Honduras. Before that he served in campus ministry and social justice ministry in Iowa. His ministry blog is http://hermanojuancito.blogspot.com
He also blogs reflections on the lectionary and saints/heroes/events of the date at http://walktheway.wordpress.com
He'll be a long-term contributor here analyzing the Latin American bishops' document from their 2007 Aparecida Conference.
Vatican II pages
- Swans Top Arsenal, Man City
- Fantastic Composition of Place
- Dives in Misericordiae 7f: Love’s Second Name
- Calling It Hate
- PS 102-103: The Neophytes at Easter
- Laudato Si 15: Outline Of The Letter
- Some Elaboration on “A Particular Fruitfulness”
- Dives in Misericordiae 7e: Mercy Open To All
- PS 100-101: Fifty Days of Easter
Liam on Swans Top Arsenal, Man Ci… David D. on Swans Top Arsenal, Man Ci… John Donaghy on Fantastic Composition of … Chris on Some Elaboration on “A P… Todd on Reconciliation Lectionary: 1 P… Dick Martin on Reconciliation Lectionary: 1 P… Todd on Open Thread For Fundamentalist… Atheist Max on Open Thread For Fundamentalist… FrMichael on PS 100-101: Fifty Days of… Liam on PS 100-101: Fifty Days of…
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