What's a Network?
I was thinking of Janet Smith's comments to LifeSite on getting rid of gay networks in diocesan culture. “Eradicating the homosexual networks from the Church would do a lot to purging the Church of immoral priests,” said Smith, “and doing so should help us get at the other problems.” - Source
There is a lot of knee jerk responses to the current crisis, as Catholics online know and discuss in the com boxes of many popular sites, as well as on Twitter and FB and other social media sites. Social media is a network. Many groups network through social media. Conspiracy theorists, every category of LGBTQ person, clergy and laity, Catholics and Protestants, and so on. How do you stop that? I'm exaggerating somewhat, but you get my point.
Social media has been the main vein for gossip, rumor, and so on. It's the main vein for sharing and caring, as well as character assassination and shaming ones enemies. I've always thought Pope Francis has been pointing this out every time he speaks about the destructive evils of gossip and slander. When he speaks of corruption, I think he sees a connection there.
What about eradicating lobbies?
The Pope recognized there are 'lobbies' - lobbies are comprised of groups who network. Get rid of the lobbies and you get rid of the networks then, huh? (He also noted there are other 'lobbies' or groups.) Lobbies are networks - both lead to corruption, sometimes even spring from corruption.
Yet when Italians say there’s a “gay lobby” in the Vatican, they don’t mean an organized faction with the aim of changing Church teaching on homosexuality or same-sex marriage.
Instead, what they have in mind is an informal, loosely organized network of clergy who support one another, keep one another’s secrets, and help one another move up the ladder. The group is perceived to have a vested interest in thwarting attempts at reform, since they benefit from secrecy and old-guard ways.
It’s called “gay” because, the theory goes, a Vatican official’s homosexuality can be a very powerful secret, especially if he’s sexually active, and threatening to expose him can be an effective way of keeping him in line. It’s hardly the only such possibility, however, and, in any event, the emphasis is not on sex but secrecy, as well as the related impression of people getting promoted or decisions being made on the basis of personal quid pro quos. - Crux
There are visible gay networks around the country. In a sense, Courage is one - which is approved. Spiritual Friendship movement supports gay-chaste-celibate Catholics, then there is Dignity, New Ways Ministry, and others I know little to nothing about. (Fr. James Martin and his supporters pretty much comprise a very visible 'gay lobby'.) These are technically support groups, but it is also sort of a network - right?.
Members - friends, communicate with one another.
Nothing wrong with that, although they can also be rather secretive and act more like an 'underground network' when they do so. They too support one another with hopes to enter religious life or seminary, or find acceptance and approval in their communities, frequently supported by clergy. Should they be eliminated too? Some yes? Some no? So how do you do that?
The Church and especially the bishops need to focus on the corruption in the clergy, in the hierarchy.
Reform is the way to clean up corruption. Eradicating networks, chipping away at lobbies only works in and through exposure to scrutiny. That's what seems to be happening with the McCarrick scandal, a painful process indeed. Painful and shameful. It is precisely why people reject those who bring it to their attention - because it burst their little Catholic bubble.
Secrecy is how and why networks and lobbies thrive. The Church exists in 'mystery' as it were, and secrecy is part of that. The seal of the confessional, the 'secret prayer' in the EF, and so on. Our Lady always seems to impart secrets at every apparition. Secrecy is very Catholic.
Corruption perverts our notion of secrecy - it seeps into clandestine movements and private exchanges. Corruption operates in secrecy. Corruption is the problem. It's up to the Pope to 'break up any power group' bent upon changing Catholic teaching - or seeking to corrupt Catholic doctrine. So far the job seems insurmountable. Maybe it has gotten worse? Or maybe what we are going through is the cure? Exposing the corruption is the first step.
"For they have eyes always on the lookout ... for someone to seduce."