Bob Cranmer: For Catholics’ sake, Vatican must institute serious reforms
Although I was raised in the Catholic Church, for the majority of my adult life I was a conservative evangelical Christian. In 2005, after a 25-year absence, I returned to the Catholic Church during a time of crisis. I came to better understand and appreciate the historic position of the organization and its millennia-long authority tied to the apostolic Christian church.
So profound was my personal experience of the direct power, order and spiritual authority of the Catholic Church, I was compelled to write my book, “The Demon of Brownsville Road,” sharing my absolute faith to believers and non-believers alike. I owe much to then-Bishop Donald Wuerl and the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, and although at this time scandals against the church were coming to light, I remained confident that meaningful reforms would be instituted.
Over a decade has passed now, and the renewed revelations of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sex abuse have long since been uncovered. There have been no significant changes made by the Catholic Church, only the same dismissive rhetoric offering little more than the platitudes of a muffled acceptance in the face of egregious abuses.
This “we feel your pain” response is a tremendous insult to those abused, as well as those who were faithful Catholics. In my opinion, the entire U.S. church should have been the subject of a federal RICO investigation when the scale of the abuse and cover-ups was revealed. The tepid response cannot be accepted, and for those of us who remain, real reform must be demanded from Rome.
So, what is a Catholic to do in the face of a church response that is reminiscent of a Roman emperor’s arrogance or the unquestionable prerogative of the biblical Pharisees? Many have chosen to abandon the church, and for others, their faith with it. I am, on the other hand, unable to do that. To me, the issue isn’t the church itself, but its leadership, beginning in Rome.
Many worldwide resignations are in order, and reforms must be adopted peremptorily to demonstrate to all true contrition; nothing short of this is acceptable.
To put it symbolically: It’s time for the money-exchange tables to be overturned in the court of the Vatican.
Cardinals and bishops who remain and served before the abuse was revealed must resign.
Celibacy must be eliminated as a condition for becoming a priest.
Women must be accepted into the full priesthood.
Local parishes must be involved in the process of selecting or moving the priests who serve them.
Those are the conditions a new reformed-minded leadership must institute.
Until then, I will continue to attend Mass and receive the sacraments, but I no longer participate in the “ritual” of the Mass as long as a bankrupt leadership remains. No kneeling, no standing. I simply sit, and in so doing demonstrate my protest until the required changes are instituted.