The Roman Catholic Church, claiming to have 1.2 billion adherents worldwide, is at the forefront of the news these days since it’s in the process of selecting its 266th pope. Like all other Judeo-Christian denominations, it’s in a struggle, especially in the “developed” nations, with regard to Christian faithfulness and behavior, not to mention a decrease in finances.
In Europe and North America, the church is in a desperate battle with secularism, i.e., indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations, according to the dictionary. Nowhere could this be more obvious than in the U.S., where parishioners pay little or no attention to church doctrine in areas such as homosexuality, contraception, abortion and marriage.
This doesn’t mean the church is wrong, only that it’s fighting a losing battle with secularism, automatically heavily vested in political correctness, which has hedonism as a driving force, defined as the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life. As seen graphically in Europe and well on its way in the U.S., the state is assuming cradle-to-grave responsibility for citizens, essentially taxing the producers and making non-producers the beneficiaries of their earnings and assets. Taking care of the “poor” used to be a church responsibility.
The history of the RCC is replete with brutality every bit as lethal and mindless as any seen today, things like the burning-at-the-stake of Bible-translator William Tyndale in 1536. The pope did not want the people to read the Bible, for obvious reasons. In it, they would have found direct contradictions to what they had been taught by the priests. They would not have found “indulgences,” for instance, a sort of passport-to-heaven scheme dreamed up by the hierarchy…for money.
This distinction can be seen in the settling of North, Central and South America. Settlers in the U.S. were relatively educated and mostly Protestant, so they could read the Bible and construct their own theologies, as well as establish government and business.
Catholic missionaries went into South and Central America to an illiterate people who could not read Latin, the language of the church, and simply accepted the clerical indoctrination. Actually, the idea of education was discouraged by the European empire-builders as well as the church, thus the difference in the living standards, for instance, between the Americas, even though South America is richer in natural resources.
The wonder is that Catholics continue to subscribe to the dogma of the Church. The current pope-election is done in complete secrecy by 115 Cardinals, men appearing as mostly old and chubby, wearing ridiculous outfits that probably cost small fortunes. They do in Masses (worship services) what one might expect in pagan rituals, such as waving incense and patrolling around an altar. They insist that the liquid used in the Eucharist is the actual blood of Jesus, too far-fetched for belief. This is not meant to be pejorative, just strange.
The Church has always been steeped in questionable actions, the most recent being the financial shenanigans of the Vatican bank-personnel, embezzlement (or maybe money-laundering) by an official who has nevertheless been pardoned by Pope Benedict XVI. The court actions and lawsuits of the last two or so decades practically bankrupting (or at least claimed, who knows?) some dioceses vis-à-vis the widespread and well-documented molestation of young people by priests is another example.
The penitentiaries in this and other countries should be full of these sleazebags but their bishops, who ought to be in jail, too, just kept moving them around. Even though the Church inveighs heavily against homosexuality, the evidence is that homosexual behavior is rampant in at least some parts of the priesthood and especially in some seminaries, among both students and faculty. Watching priests and others kneeling and kissing Pope Benedict’s ring the other day was sickening—one man bowing before another is just plain wacko.
In addition to the moral turpitude in the Catholic priesthood/hierarchy is the almost brazen display of the material riches of the Church, seen especially currently as attention is turned toward the glitter of churches and palaces in Rome. The Church is probably the single wealthiest entity in the world, when all its cash (has its own bank) and assets are counted—this while people in many Catholic-dominated countries go hungry.
Though not a member of the United Nations, the Vatican is considered a nation with a population of 836 souls located on 109 acres entirely within Italy, and has its own flag. To its eternal shame the U.S. has maintained an ambassador to the Vatican in total contravention of the U.S. Constitution regarding church and state. That post has been empty since November 2012, when U.S. Ambassador Miguel Humberto Diaz resigned to take a teaching position after 3.5 years in Rome representing President Obama, who had no trouble bowing to the Muslim head honcho of Saudi Arabia in 2009. Whether or not he would bow to a Christian Pope is problematic.
It’s fair to say that the RCC has probably done more than any organization to hurt Christianity because of both its sordid history and the current pathetic leadership and immorality in its priesthood and hierarchy.