FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Power to the Laity

by William Hughes

Lyman Frank Baum spun a delightful tale over a century ago. It’s called “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” It dealt with a little girl named Dorothy, and her odyssey, via a tornado, from a Kansas farm house into the strange, magical land of Oz. Some saw it as a parable of the populist struggle that engulfed the nation in the late 1890s. The sordid sex scandal presently rocking the Roman Catholic Church is like a 2002 version of the Wizard of Oz in many ways.

For the longest time, the Church’s arrogant hierarchy, overly idealized by the laity, has been beyond the criticism of mere mortals. Today, thanks to bumbling clerical bureaucrats, like Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, that is no longer the case.

In fact, as I write, Law is regularly accosted by parishioners at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, demanding that he resign for his alleged cover-up of the crimes of pedophile priests, like the notorious Father John Geoghan. In my updated metaphor, let us place Cardinal Law in the role of the Wizard of Oz. He represents the Church leadership today in America. And, like the original Wizard, after being exposed as a “humbug,” he can now honestly say to the faithful, “I have been making believe.”

What has Cardinal Law, and his clever counterparts, “been making believe” about? They have been making believe that they alone are the Church! Their message, as if given to the enslaved Munchkins, is that they alone rule the Church, and that others, the faithful, must follow blindly. The truth is that the laity is the real Church! And, its clerical leaders are simply that-appointed leaders, who should serve, based on acceptable standards of clerical conduct, at the pleasure of the laity.

The modus operandi of the Church leaders with regard to the repulsive crimes against the young was to ignore and/or cover-up the foul deeds, blame the innocent victims, and marginalize those exposing the wrongdoing. This sad pattern has a history.

For years, activists in this country implored Cardinal Law and others in the Church hierarchy, to take a stand for the beleaguered Catholics in the north of Ireland. What we got back for our human rights efforts was indifference to the desperate situation in the British controlled tagged the victims as troublemakers, and were hostile to us for bringing the matter to their attention. Parallels continue. It was a tornado that drove Dorothy to Oz. And, it is the deepening sex scandal that has catapulted the laity into examining the widespread corruption within the Church. It, too, coveys a strong mandate about the need for democratic checks and balances within that faltering institution. What Dorothy and her three companions, found out from their journey to Emerald City is also very instructive to the mess within the Church. First, that goodness and a trusting nature can afford people some protection against evil, but that ignorance of evil’s capabilities will eventually allow it to impose itself upon them. And, secondly, that each individual carries within himself the solutions to his own problems, were he only to view himself objectively. The ancients, like the Roman Seneca, called this wisdom “God’s Natural Law.”

A recent poll conducted by NBC News showed a roster of mistrust with respect to the American public’s lack of confidence in major institutions. It included corporate executives, brokerage firms, drug companies, the oil industry and the Roman Catholic Church.

On June 15, after a public outcry and demand for reform, led by the victims of priestly abuse, the U.S. Bishops, at a Dallas, Texas conference, adopted a “zero tolerance” resolution regarding pedophile priests. Unfortunately, they were silent on the key question of the complicity of many of their own members in perpetuating and covering up the pedophilia scandal. Accountability for individual bishops, and cardinals, too, like Bernard Law, wasn’t on the cleric’s limited agenda in Dallas.

Two-thirds of Catholics in a Washington Post poll, released on June 19, said the new guidelines do not go far enough in protecting children. Three fourths of the general public felt that way. The Church faithful must take off their “green glasses,” and see the leadership as it really is, without any illusions, and take the Church back for themselves. It must demand the sacking of the failed men who have betrayed not only their trusting flock, but also their God. Only then, can the laity say, with joy in their hearts, as the brave Dorothy acclaimed on returning to the great plains of Kansas: “And oh, Aunt Elm! I’m so glad to be at home again!”

William Hughes is an attorney and the author of Andrew Jackson vs. New World Order (Authors Choice Press) and Baltimore Iconoclast (Writer’s Showcase).

(c) William Hughes 2002

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail