At first glance, Monday’s story on the sexual escapades of UK bishop Kieran Conry might be seen as inappropriate scandal mongering better kept out of the public light. A closer reading reveals something entirely different. The article is instead an instructive expose related to calls from some clergy for the upcoming Synod on the Family to dramatically loosen application of Church moral teachings.
The bishop Conry report presents a timely example of just one of numerous dissenting Catholic clergy, publicly opposed to or far too quietly, if at all, defending the Church’s moral teachings, who in the end are frequently found to have been so because they have been violating those teachings in their personal lives. This is something LifeSite has encountered very frequently over the years, especially among, but not limited to homosexual clergy.
The other notable aspect of Monday’s report is that the bishop’s double life was known to other clergy and hierarchy and yet no one acted upon the scandal. That was one contributing factor to the great sex abuse scandals. The almost universal unwillingness or fear of clergy to hold their brother priests and bishops to account for serious misbehavior is another common occurrence that seriously needs addressing. Allowing a loosening of Church moral teaching or pastoral application to develop out of the upcoming synod on the family is unlikely to address or correct anything.
On July 27, 2012 I wrote the article, A still very serious problem in the Catholic Church that needs to be dealt with, referring to the major cancer in the Church of unrepentant active homosexual clergy.
That first article was followed by another on January 2013 titled, Something to be dealt with in the churches – urgently and forcefully. Although, the Bishop Conry story is not about homosexuality, it still fits in with the rejection of Catholic moral teaching narrative and the abuse of power by those using their Church-given status and authority to advance and protect their personal sexual proclivities. Also, as usually happens in such cases, Conry was known to be receptive to Catholic homosexual organizations that dissent from Church teaching.
Those who have been warning about all of this for decades have had to endure much disbelief, ridicule and persecution. And yet, over and over, they have been proven to be right, but at what terrible cost to innocent victims and to the Church as a whole.
Pope Benedict XVI finally took very strong, long overdue actions against sexually abusive or wrong living clergy and for this he earned absolute hatred from many quarters within the Church. I have no doubt whatever that this was somehow one of the major reasons for his abdication.
But Benedict, then as Cardinal Ratzinger, had something to say during a lecture on March 22, 1986 about the Church permitting those given teaching authority to abuse the sacredness of that authority given to them. He stated:
“Those who speak about abuse of power regarding the way teaching in the Church is disciplined, today are thinking only of the usual abuse of power from those in the Church that have this duty. However, forgotten, instead, is that there is also an abuse of power given by means of the mandate to teach; this is the abuse of those who take advantage, for a purely private word, of that readiness to listen and of that trust which is given, even today, to the word of the Church.
Church authority becomes an accomplice in this abuse of power if it tolerates that this is done without qualms, and so places its authority there where it is not allowed. For her [the Church], concern for the faith of the little ones must be more important than fearing the opposition of the powerful.
One thing that the Second Vatican Council emphasized was the role of the laity in the Church, but as any outspoken, well-informed, faithful Catholic layman or laywoman has learned since that time, domineering clericalism is nevertheless still very much alive. That is, the dissident liberals do not tolerate truly faithful Catholics having any significant influence on the Church. The dissidents are often ruthless and tend to lord it over faithful Catholics.
The synod is revealing deep divisions within the Church, divisions that have already been there for many years. Now some feel confident, for whatever reason, to be more open about their rejection of the Church's moral teachings and to press it to actually change its ways and get with the modern world – even if that contradicts Christ’s explicit words.
We cannot allow that to happen. That is because we know for certain what greater suffering and evil such rejection of the moral norms will bring into the world. As an evangelical acquaintance recently told me in a lengthy conversation a few weeks ago, “everyone looks to the Catholics to be the guys that we can always rely on to stay strong on marriage and the family. If you guys let up we are all in big trouble.”
Yes, Bishop Conly shows what really big trouble we are heading for if we do not take strong action now to have this corruption within the Catholic Church rooted out. Benedict knew what he was doing.