George V. Reilly

De-excommunication

Pope Benedict XVI

The Pope has reinstated four ex­com­mu­ni­cat­ed bishops:

Pope Benedict XVI, reaching out to the far-right of the Roman Catholic Church, revoked the ex­com­mu­ni­ca­tions of four schismatic bishops on Saturday, including one whose comments denying the Holocaust have provoked outrage.

Pam has more. Newsweek has context.

Last month, the Pope said:

that saving humanity from homosexual or trans­sex­u­al behaviour was just as important as saving the rainforest from de­struc­tion.

Shit like this reminds me of why I am no longer a Catholic.

I was raised Catholic in Ireland and spent eleven years at a priest-run school. It didn’t take; I had lost my faith by my mid-teens.

But even if I still believed in God, I’d have a hard time being Catholic. I don’t have anything against Catholics per se, and I’ve known individual Catholic priests that I respected, but I can’t stand the Catholic Hierarchy.

James Joyce said of the Irish, “we are an un­for­tu­nate priest-ridden race and always were and always will be”. It’s no longer quite true—many Irish people only see the inside of a church now for “hatches, matches, and dis­patch­es” (baptisms, weddings, and funerals). But it was certainly true in the Seventies and Eighties when I was growing up.

The Catholic Church had a stran­gle­hold on life in the Republic of Ireland. Con­tra­cep­tion was illegal until the Eighties, and, when first introduced, was available only to married couples with a pre­scrip­tion. Divorce only became legal about a decade ago. Ho­mo­sex­u­al­i­ty was de­crim­i­nal­ized not long before that. Most of the national (public) schools were controlled by parish priests, and most private schools were run by religious orders. (Still largely true today, I believe.) Until 1970, no Catholic could attend the tra­di­tion­al­ly Protestant Trinity College Dublin without a dis­pen­sa­tion from a bishop.

Education, the modern world, the European Union, out-of-wedlock births, declining vocations: all of these have loosened the Church’s grasp in Ireland. The Bishop Casey affair (he had a son and embezzled for nearly 20 years to support the boy), the Irish pedophile priest coverups, and other scandals shook many people’s faith.

In the larger picture, Popes John Paul II and Benedict have spent the last 30 years trying to roll back the lib­er­al­iz­ing effects of Vatican II. They’ve stacked the hierarchy with con­ser­v­a­tive bishops and cardinals, ensuring their influence will last for decades after their own deaths.

The Catholic Church is becoming in­creas­ing­ly irrelevant, and I welcome it.

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