Monday, April 5, 2010

Austen Ivereigh: "The Crisis of Clericalism"

Austen Ivereigh whose girlfriend had an abortion while he was an undergraduate at Oxford (which he says he attempted to waylay) and who impregnated another woman with whom he was unmarried during his work as a PR Man for Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, insists that the Catholic Church has little capacity for self reform. One could wonder whether or not he was actually talking about himself, since his previous behavior indicates a strong sign of reluctance to reform, as he writes:

Like all powerful institutions, the Church has little capacity to reform itself, but it can embrace purgation as an opportunity for change. As the crisis spreads from country to country, one after another the hierarchies will be bewildered by the onslaught and anger. Some will blame the media for its often crude and misleading reports, others will retreat more tightly into their bunkers, others will point out (correctly) that clerical abuse has nothing to do with celibacy or an all-male priesthood. Some will have the courage to recognise that it is, however, a consequence of a culture of clericalism which still prevails, an attitude that places concern for a priest's reputation above the welfare of a child, and a mindset that leads to dissident theologians being prosecuted more swiftly than abusers of children.

It wouldn't be for us to mention any of this about Mr. Ivereigh's poor moral character, except that he wanted to point out what he calls the Church's inabillity to reform itself, and his insistence that the scandal is a result of anything but what truly ails it, that it suffers from a "Clerical Culture". Perhaps a barb aimed at his former employer? But no, a man who could defend an organization as readily as he did while flaunting its moral teachings, is unlikely to find fault where it belongs. Like Noonan, Weigel and other ecclesiastical mouthpieces, either self-appointed or not, he struggles and fails in his own regard in his ability to self-reform, but he also fails in another regard, that he fails to appreciate the divine nature of the Institution he once defended and says he's continuing to defend by his written word.

It might be good that he feels enough sympathy to report the sufferings of the Church in the French Revolution and in the 20th Century at the hands of Revolutionaries of all kinds. He's wrong incidentally to underrate the persecution of the Church in Latin America in the 19th Century, but his condescending tone is reminiscent of other writers, wielding their pen and attempting to defend her with faint praise, while jumping on the bandwagon, either for motives of malice at their own personal moral failures and lack of integrity as Iveriegh does, or in terms of their deeper-seated philosophical impediments like Noonan and Weigel, who are so Hegelian, they will never be able to look beyond their poorly chosen allegiances to truly defend the Church; they will always be cynics who are too intelligent, really, for the "obscurantist" and "irreformable" leadership and culture of the Catholic Religion. Their barely concealed antagonism to the Catholic Faith nay see them in future, belonging to more palatable protestant sects.

Austen Ivereigh's, The Crisis of Clericalism....

h/t: wrigleys

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