Saturday, 6 June 2009

What can Catholics do?

I don’t think any decent person, Catholic or otherwise, can be anything other than sickened at events described in the Ryan Report. I have the greatest of sympathy for those honest Catholics who have discovered what is going on and who, like Madeleine Bunting, are wondering what to do.

Leaving the church may seem a momentous step, and indeed it is, one which many Catholics may baulk at, for it is not their Christian ideals which have been found wanting, but the human institutions in which they have placed their trust.

There is a way of expressing displeasure at the institutions while not abandoning your Christian ideals. I think and hope that it might be highly effective.

Continue to attend Mass, if that is what your conscience requires of you. Continue to take communion. But make it clear that you will give no more money to the church or to any Catholic charity and that you are diverting your charitable giving to secular charities instead.

You can say that this state of affairs will remain in force until you are satisfied that the Church’s institutions have been cleaned up, that all known paedophile or abusive priests have been removed from positions in which they can do any further harm, that all relevant evidence has been passed to the police and that the Church will in future operate a policy of openness and co-operation with the secular authorities regarding breaches in the law by Catholic priests and officials.

Only when you are satisfied that all this has been done will you consider that the Church is a fit steward for your charitable donations and resume your giving to the Church and its associated charities.

It is only by means of contributions from the faithful that this appalling system has been able to continue for so long. I’m sure the great majority of Catholics had no idea what was going on, and so cannot be held collectively responsible for events. But now that you do know what was going on, you have a responsibility to do all in your power to see that it is stopped, that those responsible are brought to justice, and that this can never happen again.

For most individual Catholics, you have just two effective means. One is to withhold your contributions, and the other is to express your concerns. Better still if you do both at once, with an explicit link between them. I hope that as many Catholics as possible worldwide will write to their Archbishop and tell him what they think of the situation and that they are withholding their contributions unless and until it is sorted out to their satisfaction.

You do have the power. Go forth and use it.

1 comment:

  1. I really cannot think what a good Catholic can possibly do since they believe that their leadership is chosen by God through the Holy Spirit acting here on earth. To repudiate them or to criticise them is to criticise God and will result in them being punished for all eternity.

    I think that all they can do is meekly obey, pay their tithes and trust that despite the evidence God does actually know what he is doing and have faith.