I was stunned to learn, and checked and it is correct: “Less than five percent of money flowing through Catholic charities and hospitals comes from Catholic offering plates. Powerful Christian organizations have secured government funds to underwrite” their costs.
This essay gave me pause and made me think, and I hope it does the same for you.
Despite Vatican efforts to keep the public eye focused on pomp and circumstance, speculation about the real reason for Pope Benedict’s resignation dominates conversation about the papal succession: Is it the Vatileaks money laundering? Is it the pedophilia scandal? Might it have something to do with criminal charges filed in European courts? How about the impact of all three on Catholic Church coffers and pews? Is this about immunity or power or finances or brand management?
The Vatican claims to promote a “comprehensive culture of life,” but it is the Church’s comprehensive culture of corruption that refuses to die. Consider yesterday’s scandal in which Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien, resigned amid allegations of sexual contacts with priests. Last year O’Brien had called marriage equality a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right.” In fact, in 2012, he received a “bigot of the year” award from the British gay rights group, Stonewall. The combination makes him a poster boy for the notion that homophobia is a symptom of denial. Methinks he doth protest too much.
From the October death of Savita Halappanavar for lack of an abortion in Catholic controlled Ireland, to the pedophilia cover-up being unveiled gradually this spring in California, to the infighting exposed when the Pope’s butler leaked inside Vatican documents, to Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s efforts to obstruct contraceptive access regardless of the public health consequences—Catholic priorities increasingly appear to have two products: harm and hypocrisy. Those who still consider the Catholic hierarchy to be a source of moral leadership are living in a fantasy.
As someone who thinks the world could use a little moral leadership, I can’t resist indulging in a little fantasy of my own: Imagine how different things would be if the Dalai Lama were the next pope.
Respect for science.
Interspirituality, humility and adapting to pluralism.
A real Comprehensive Culture of Life.
Separation of church and state.
A disappointing lack of sordid scandals.