There is so much filth in the Church; how often is Jesus received into cold and empty hearts – thus the terrible words spoken by Pope Benedict just before his elevation to the Papacy, words so terrible because so true.
The filth and scandals of the Church indeed make the Bride of Christ appear more like the Whore of Babylon. This but hastens the loss of faith that characterises the West – with more and more loss of faith comes more and more laxity of morals, the two compounding and speeding the rush into the abyss.
What is needed is a new Gregorian Reform. Just as the mediæval Church was swept clean of clerical concubinage and all manner of compromise with the secular world of its day, so the same is very much needed now.
After all, what does the ongoing exposure of cases of clerical sexual abuse reveal, but that much that should have been resolutely punished and purged was instead indulgently covered up, to the terrible harm of the little ones of Christ?
There are priests living in open concubinage: in that Austrian diocese where the appointment of a new bishop was aborted, for example – a priest there openly boasted in the media of this shame. There are priests who have not kept their vows, but have wallowed in the mire. I speak not here of those who have gone so far beyond all decency as to commit crimes, but of those who have followed the way of the world.
The Catholic laity cannot be excused, for it were hypocrisy to condemn priests for being unchaste, when their flocks are full of fornicators, lovers of self-abuse and pornography, sodomites, those who have abandoned their spouses to take up with new partners, and the multitudes who contracept and abort.
A simple principle: if a doctrine or precept be not preached, it is not believed.
When was the last time, gentle reader, you heard a sermon or any other instruction that warned against these sins?
This principle is so frightening! Yet I more and more believe it to be true.
Many bishops and their clergy are not so much dumb dogs that do not bark, as quite satisfied with the way modern mores promote all manner of immorality: they do not speak out against any vices, because they do not consider them wrongful, and in some cases wink at them, and even indulge in them themselves.
What the medicine for this gangrene? In some cases, the diseased limb must be cut off: if more clergy were suspended, defrocked, or even excommunicated for their moral turpitude, it would be a salutary lesson for all.
Given the ongoing scandal of clerical sexual abuse, and the culture of wilful blindness if not culpable negligence, and even of actual cooperation in evil that it reveals, it will not be long before bishops not just priests go to prison, and rightly so.
Which local episcopate will be the first to thus fall; which local episcopate will be the first to be dismissed en masse? One fears it may come to that soon enough. The current goings-on in Belgium presage this. Ireland will not be the only land needing an Apostolic Visitation, and not a smiling whitewash either, but a thoroughgoing exposure and rooting out of all perversion.
But of course, the true, lasting remedy is sound preaching that leads to conversion, a conversion expressed by repentance and confession, with the intention to go and sin no more. For this, all orthodox priests must labour yet the more. The example that truly converts is that of personal holiness.
All glory be to God for raising up Pope Benedict to begin the cleansing of the Augean stables; may the Lord inspire him and his successors to be new Gregories, that the Church may be restored to purity, for the salvation of all.