I’m what is called a “lapsed Catholic.” But it is the Roman Catholic Church that has lapsed into irretrievable corruption. Then again, was it not corrupted from its inception?
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court drove the final nail into whatever moral authority the Roman Catholic Church had after decades of child molestation by priests and subsequent cover-ups by bishops, cardinals and popes.
Even though pedophilia in the Catholic Church has been known for decades, the recent report is reverberating throughout America. Perhaps that’s because evil is now so clearly manifest in the White House.
As one prominent pundit wrote: “It is the role of priests to represent God to their congregation, and to represent their congregations to God. But there are other powers in the universe, darker ones — the yawning, ruinous void, whose name is evil.”
There we have it, the age-old mistake of Christianity, describing evil in supernatural terms, as “other, darker powers in the universe—the yawning ruinous void.” This largely subconscious philosophy of evil has allowed darkness to grow unchecked within people, and overtake American culture and democratic institutions.
For how can we face and dispel something that is the product of “darker powers in the universe?” The supposed cosmic battle between good and evil is too much for ordinary human beings to face. After all, evil even did Jesus in, didn’t it?
Yes and no. Evil defeated Jesus but it did not break him. And he certainly didn’t view it in a supernatural way, as somehow woven into the fabric of the universe itself.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies, and do good, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind to the unthankful and to the evil.”
Evil is man-made. It did not pre-date humans on this earth, and it will not outlive us should we succumb to its death wish in human consciousness for humanity.
With respect to the Roman Catholic Church, its very formation in the 4th century marked the defeat of the Gnostic mysticism of Jesus by the forces of power, hierarchy and patriarchy. If people had truly followed Jesus’ teachings, there would have been no organized religion as Catholicism and its Protestant offshoots.
As another columnist wrote: “Since its alliance with the Roman Emperor Constantine in the 4th century, the Catholic hierarchy has been tempted by power. It has cloaked itself in mystery to rule by edict rather than by example. At root, this scandal springs from idolatry.”
Pope Francis just issued a 2,000-word letter addressed to the “People of God,” in which he said, “Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such [abuses] from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated.”
There’s the old division, that Catholics are “People of God” more than other people. There’s the old deflection, “looking ahead to the future” rather than confronting the sins of the past. There’s the old deception, talking about “creating a culture able to prevent” the horrendous crimes that the culture of the Catholic Church incubated, which destroyed the innocence of untold numbers of children.
Let’s not focus exclusively on the Roman Catholic Church however. After all, Christian evangelicals continue to form the core of the twisted mind and mouth of Donald Trump. It was white Christian nationalists, more than any other group (much more than the Russian hackers and meddlers) that opened the door of the White House to the evils of the Trump Administration.
As another national columnist wrote, “Trump, by virtue of his controversial style and tendency to destroy societal norms, simply became the most obvious conduit [of evil]— arguably a near-perfect one, in fact.”
Can ordinary people, adrift in a dead, darkness-saturated culture and world, deal intelligently with evil?
In one of the suppressed, ‘lost’ gospels, the Gospel of Thomas (which is probably more accurate because it contains no miracles and stories of Jesus, only his sayings), Jesus said, “When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will know that you are the sons and daughters of the living God.”
The cornerstone of Catholicism is that priests and bishops are essential intermediaries to God. But God is as one feels God to be in one’s heart. Therefore priestly mediation was the fatal flaw in the Church. Now it’s come full circle, and is finished.
Though evil can exist in any individual, it does not have its source in any one individual, group, or institution. Therefore the way to turn the tables on evil, and begin to dispel it in human consciousness, is to learn from it without reaction.
That’s a very difficult thing to do. But truly, do people of character and conscience have any choice?