2018 is a particularly bad year to be a Catholic. However, while we’ve brought it upon ourselves, we also have the capacity for change.
Being a Catholic in this country is often a trial, one where we collectively drag the cross through baying internet comment box crowds. Those who cast the stones of criticism do so without sin, words powered with vengeance and furious anger. Sadly, the appalling, unforgivable acts of the ordained few taint the efforts of the many. Which is infuriating. The many of the flock are as angry as you. Doubly so, both because of their acts, and the tar they’ve painted the rest of us with.
However, this Good Friday, I don’t believe we can hide behind the denial of #NotAllCatholics.
What we’re suffering from, is an internal problem. We’re the problem.
While we might bristle at the smugness of told you so atheists, they have an underlying point, and it’s mostly correct. We need to change, to move with the times, instead of just being there, the ancient finger in the moral dyke. While we’ve always been prescient, doomsaying and promoting ourselves as the unchanging constant, horizons have shifted, and I strongly believe that it represents the dusk of the church as we know it; which I believe to be a positive. What I feel we need is a broom through the vestibule, to remove the antiquated Catholics who have long been part of the furniture, and part of the problem. A certain ex-Prime Minister of Australia, for example. His ilk. The onion set, those we’ve long decided against peeling, as we know the stench would be unbearable.
But the time is now.
Meteoric change has landed and made itself felt. Pope Francis reversing the stance on LGBTI issues in 2015 was a massive moment, furthering his point, stating that our flock should apologise to that community for the maltreatment.
Which, is completely on the mark. However, what we find ourselves at, is a point of difference. While this change might have been unfathomable ten years ago, it now becomes a question of what took you so long? which winds to a narrative of too little, too late aimed at us by our critics. The angry rhetoric is justified by the old guard’s insistence to keep things the way they were.
Legitimate questions, brought upon by our terrible public image. People automatically suspect the worst, because they suspect us of being the worst.
As it stands, we’re seen as only helping ourselves. Earlier this year, Fairfax released a damning report regarding the expanse of our real estate wealth, which totalled somewhere near $30 billion on our shores alone. Combine that with Cardinal George Pell finally fronting court over child sex allegations and Catholicism in 2018 is a rock-punctured stained glass window.
Speaking to my local parish priest, he believes that we need to wind back to Year Zero. He believes that the church needs to become poor again to become relevant. To adjust their focus. Which is a point as logical as it is naive. However, I believe it to already be too late. The Catholicism we know will be dead in two decades. The empty pews speak volumes, I see it every week. However, what I also see, is progress. A more fragmental, subjective spirituality, minus church, minus parish, but pro message, devoid of corruption, obfuscation or ulterior motive.
Recent scholarly evidence suggests that Jesus did exist and was crucified. What he might have actually looked like, or whether he was divine (or not) is a diversion of the point. The pertinent fact is that he fought for the addled many under the boot of the entitled few should be, and always remain the issue.
The church needs to focus on tomorrow, not yesterday. Time for a sweeping change.