Thursday, August 09, 2018

Eradicating Networks ... and Lobbies

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."


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  2. If there were a wholesale return to the Church's traditional moral teaching it would at least make life very uncomfortable for those who deliberately and systematically flout it. There would still be hypocrisy and, of course, human weakness. And here and there there would be genuine cognitive dissonance. But the ones who refuse even to pay lip-service to the Ten Commandments and the ones who genuinely start to crack up would quickly "out" themselves. There is no simple or perfect solution to the problems that arise from man's wounded nature. But it would certainly be a start. And it would be wholly preferable to the mealy mouthed back-biting and paranoia that we're going to be faced with for the next ten or twenty years (not to mention all the other nonsense - psychoanalyzing seminarians and what have you).

    1. It's interesting to me your comment at the end - analyzing ad nauseam seminarians and the like. That is not the key to it at all, nor is an inquisition, nor personnel investigations into the private lives of priests. I agree that a wholesale return to Catholic moral teaching and stand by it is exactly what 'reform' would look like and would be enough to accomplish the reform. But it is absolutely necessary to insist upon Catholic doctrine - to teach it and practice it. Traditionally candidates for the priesthood were well known by the time of ordination - their manner of life was known inside and out by their superiors. They couldn't get in seminary without recommendations attesting to character and maturity. Those in charge were men of character and maturity. That was lost along the way. It's very much a problem of shepherds neglecting their flocks I think.

      Anyway, I agree with you and now I am more afraid of the knee-jerk reactions and 'mealy-mouthed' solutions and all sorts of outing escapades offered in imitation of the worst horror legends of the Inquisition.

    2. I knew someone long ago who always used to say, "everyone keeps talking and talking and talking ... no one is praying."

      McCarrack's not talking ... I may well have to imitate him since everyone else is just constantly talking ... except the bishops, of course.

    3. I think I've talked too much.

    4. The strange thing is no one is talking about it here on the homefront, not even family members who are always very critical of the Church. Nothing from my local parish either. But I am talking too much online and becoming angry and distracted.

      Time for me to retreat too ... get my bearings back.

    5. If the Pope doesn't do or say anything major about all of this, I think it will just be settled by committee and it will be business as usual.

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