Onyx wrote: Dug wrote:
Yeah, me too.
But by the way, how sure are you that the Roman Catholic church does not have people engaged in watching what's being posted on the web? I'm not suggesting that they're interested in small beer stuff at CPS... but don't you think that they watch trends, blogs and moves for and against the church on the web? Don't you think that they have their eye on a handful of potentially influential types? Have a think about that. I imagine they want to know what's going on. Maybe they have a virtual ear to the ground also.
Or maybe I'm just hung-over from re-watching the Bourne trilogy.
If only. While it's hard to generalize about what "the Roman Catholic Church does" given her 1+ billion members, the Vatican itself has been very slow in coming up to cyber-speed. In fact, a failure to keep an electronic ear to the ground (and general e-cluelessnes) contributed to Rome's failure to appreciate the severity of -- and to respond in a timely and appropriate manner to -- the US sexual abuse scandal(s) in 2002. There's a good, detailed description of the dynamic in George Weigel's "The Courage to Be Catholic: Crisis, Reform ("As odd as it must seem, given the conventional wisdom that the Vatican is a wealthy and efficient bureaucracy, the Vatican is in fact way off the roadside of the information superhighway."). In terms of content, indexing, and display, the Holy See's own website is still behind the curve. And notwithstanding media caricatures about an "authoritarian" Church, CDF disciplinary proceedings regarding Catholic theologians teaching anti-Catholic doctrine are actually rare, slow, and measured (too rare and slow for some people's tastes; then again, there wouldn't much disciplining for CDF to do if local Bishops were more courageous in doing their
While there is a robust and engaged Catholic blogosphere and a lot of Web presence, much -- if not most -- of that is undertaken by Catholic laity.
The observations of your original post had some genuine insights that resonated with me. I grew up in a nondenominational evangelical congregation that began as a home meeting in someone's living room and ended up a local "megachurch" of two or three thousand people. Although it wasn't nearly as abusive as your former situation sounds, it was interesting -- and ultimately problematic -- to see how large certain personalities loomed, and the kinds of peer pressure and group dynamics that created. As someone with a lot of initial prejudices against liturgical traditions and a ministerial priesthood, it surprised me to discover that the consecrated office
of priests made their particular personalities
comparatively less important, and I have found Catholicism to be far less susceptible to those sorts of "cult of personality" dynamics.
Though it certainly is not completely immune, as underscored by the recent, dismal case of the Regnum Christi
movement and its founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel. That group had a lot of internal rules meant to enforce secrecy and curtail criticism of their leadership and -- surprise, surprise -- it turns out that the unrepentant founder was leading a secret, double life that involved multiple illegitimate children, numerous alleged (and apparently credible) cases of sex abuse, apparent plagiarism of parts of his key written "works", etc. A lot of well-intentioned and otherwise pious Catholic Christians have been terribly damaged by the duplicity, scandal, and fallout. And those who had tried to blow the whistle early on (before the Vatican got around to investigating and Pope Benedict disciplined the founder) faced terrible retribution, ostracization, and smear campaigns.
I appreciate the wisdom of John Paul II's statement in his encyclical Redemptoris Missio (Mission of the Redeemer):
On her part, the Church addresses people with full respect for their freedom. Her mission does not restrict freedom but rather promotes it. The Church proposes; she imposes nothing. She respects individuals and cultures, and she honors the sanctuary of conscience. To those who for various reasons oppose missionary activity, the Church repeats: Open the doors to Christ!
I get wary when people tell me not
to think about something, or to completely ignore the call of conscience.