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Cardinal Mahony, the Archbishop of Los Angeles Archdiocese, attends Holy Mass during Christmas at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, California December 25, 2010. Cardinal Mahony plans to step down in February 2011 after 25 years of servi
One of the problems with the ongoing scandals within the Catholic Church (my old church, see past posts, etc., etc.) is the ongoing part; as much as certain professional inquisitors might deny it, the Church can hardly claim that The Troubles are behind it even as each new year brings to light new instances in which the hierarchy, as an institution, did their level best to cover up pedophilia, to obstruct investigations into offending priests, and even to slander the victims. Retired cardinal Roger Mahony—a longtime, very visible presence in this neck of the woods, and a face any Los Angeles resident, Catholic or not, would have seen a great many times on the news for a great many reasons during his long tenure—was recently stripped of all remaining duties by the person who took over his post. It was as a result of yet another document dump showing that yet another of the Church's most prominent American voices was considerably more concerned with the perpetrators of the crimes than the victims; a new name, but the same story.

Via Americablog, the good cardinal still has things to say on humility and humiliation, however:

Given all of the storms that have surrounded me and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles recently, God's grace finally helped me to understand:  I am not being called to serve Jesus in humility.  Rather, I am being called to something deeper--to be humiliated, disgraced, and rebuffed by many.

I was not ready for this challenge.  Ash Wednesday changed all of that, and I see Lent 2013 as a special time to reflect deeply upon this special call by Jesus.

To be honest with you, I have not reached the point where I can actually pray for more humiliation.  I'm only at the stage of asking for the grace to endure the level of humiliation at the moment.

In the past several days, I have experienced many examples of being humiliated.  In recent days, I have been confronted in various places by very unhappy people.  I could understand the depth of their anger and outrage--at me, at the Church, at about injustices that swirl around us.

Thanks to God's special grace, I simply stood there, asking God to bless and forgive them.

Sigh. Humility or no humility, this is one of those situations where maybe a vow of silence would have been the better part of valor. Why all this still matters, below the fold:

I don't rightly know that anyone in the Church, from His Popiliiness on down, has yet truly grasped the ongoing anger among the victims, and on behalf of the victims, and how every little glancing moan from the various Church officials implicated over that very, very long period of time stings, as they talk about how the Church has suffered humiliations, and how we've all been just going on about this far too much, and how it's time to forgive the Church as members of the Church forgive the victims and move on. The events may have been from a long time ago, but Mahoney's fuller role in it was revealed only last month, and so that resets the clock, yet again, on the surrounding outrage and overall, seething mistrust. There will be no healing until there is a space in time between new revealed offenses long enough to heal, and that is where the Church (my old church, etc., etc.) is still in deep trouble, and looks to be in trouble for a long time.

From a purely public standpoint, my own suspicion is that all of this is only going to get worse, not better, when a new pope is chosen. The Church is in a foul mood, and in a mood for retrenchment. Here in America, that is most evidenced by the new silly faux-populist outrage by which the Church hierarchy addresses such newly invented injustices as birth control being made available to Taco Bell workers, because God knows there was not enough prudish obsession over sexuality before making fast-food employee sexytimes the new hill the bishops will die on.

This is the whole problem: The Church has suffered several very profound scandals that have shown deep, systemic moral failures within the hierarchy, moral failures which have severely discredited them in the eyes of a vast many sitting in the pews, and which have personally and directly wounded more than a few. It may even prove a generational shift within the Church, as an entire population of churchgoers comes to terms with the new knowledge that even some of their higher-tier leaders may have been something close to crooks, which is a dangerous sentiment to be rolling around in any organization so obsessively devoted to hierarchy as Catholicism. The seeming response by that same hierarchy, however, has been a very conspicuous and hyper-aggressive new public moralizing about, bluntly, far more banal things. The notion that every single world employer has the God-given right to micromanage what insurance their employees will get, but that the Church itself can get away with pedophilia, financial corruption and cover-up and all that has no substantive bearing on the moral relevance of the church itself is, well … certainly lacking in humility, we can at least say that. And it matters.

The Church is taking a newly expanded role in promoting public morality at the same time their own flock (and, heaven knows, all those outside of the flock) has an increased skepticism, or even mistrust, of the Church's moral fiber. I suspect we have not seen the last of the public, political implications of that. Perhaps the Church intends to truly devote itself to this new, more aggressively evangelical role, and/or perhaps the still-ongoing revelations, in document after document after document, will bleed that public relevance as fast as they can gain it.

In either case, it looks like it will play out in the political arena as much as the spiritual one. The bishops and archbishops (accurately) consider themselves under siege, and apparently mean to enroll the rest of the country in these little skirmishes for renewed moral relevance and stature whether we want them to or not.

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