“[T]his basic truth remains: the moral authority of Catholic church’s central authority is over. The only two options are denial and defensive p.r. (the current knee-jerk response) or open repentance and total transparency, led from the top.
As average Catholics, this seems to me something that we have to try and insist upon. Because once all moral authority falters, it is very hard to regain. It may be lost for generations. And this is our church too.” ~ Andrew Sullivan
This sort of statement seems much more reasonable than much of what Andrew has been writing in regards to the Pope and the sexual abuse scandals these days. No, I don’t think that the ‘moral authority of the Catholic church’s central authority is over’ but I do think that a more repentant and transparent era is needed, and I do think that this should start from the top. How to go about this is not an easy question, but it needs to happen and fast or people really will start to lose faith in the Church.
But rather than ushering in this new era by sacrificing the Pope on the altar of false accountability through a meaningless resignation, I hope the Pope and the bishops and the entire hierarchy work toward a much more transparent process. I think they have been, but in that frustratingly slow and far too opaque manner by which the Church has traditionally operated. Where they unearth sexual abuse I hope they swiftly help bring those responsible to justice – partnering with secular authorities rather than shuffling the offenders around in secret.
All that aside, I really do think that Andrew muddies up his own arguments by tossing about the term ‘Theocon’ so casually. Not all the Pope’s defenders are theocons after all – which, to be quite clear, is a rather vague sort of strawman to begin with, and not particularly helpful in an open and honest discussion of – well, of anything really. I fail to see what good it does beyond creating ever more dividing lines in our discussions of faith and politics. Perhaps we need those lines sometimes, but we do need them in this particular case? I hope not.
Am I a theocon? I support gay marriage – and I defend the Pope! Hell, I support gay marriage and I defend the Church’s right to not support gay marriage, and to refuse to provide benefits to married gay couples. For that matter, is Andrew a theocon? He opposes abortion and considers himself a Christian and a conservative. He even supported the Iraq War! Sounds like a theocon to me.
Or perhaps this label has outworn its usefulness, much as the ‘Christianist’ label has, or the ‘Islamist’ label for that matter. Then again it could be that I am just anti-labelist.