If, as I do, you call yourself a Christian, it can be very hard to see the leaders of another institution that calls itself Christian behave in very unchristian ways. That is the dilemma faced by anyone who has watched the self-serving and defensive approach of the Roman Catholic church world wide over the last couple of decades. It is bad enough that a small number of priests – supposedly spiritual leaders for their flocks – have committed unmentionable atrocities against young children. It is a sad fact of the fall that such behaviour is inevitable. However what should never have been inevitable is that the leaders of an institution that calls itself a Christian church should ever have gone out of its way to cover up the abuse just to protect its own reputation at the cost of the innocent members of its flock.
To many in Ireland and around the world such a cover up is the real reason that they cannot be identified with that institution.
There is, of course, nothing new about this. Back in the 16th century as the reformation began to take root, its leaders and followers too saw even more blatant abuses of position by those in leadership in the Roman Catholic church. Even a cursory reading of the history of those times can convince you that in many ways nothing much has changed.
Personally, I was brought up a Roman Catholic. I attended mass religiously for many years. During all that time I never remember hearing that I could have a personal relationship with God my Father through Jesus Christ. It took another student my own age, himself a former Roman Catholic, working outside that institution and with no support – indeed outright opposition – from it, to be the instrument used to reveal that astonishing and life-changing truth to me. About 11 months after being born again I left the Roman Catholic church myself and never went back. That was in 1981 when it wasn’t so fashionable to leave as it is now.
Whether they want to admit it or not we are all here in the West hugely influenced by the teachings of Jesus Christ. We all, without any controversy, know right from wrong when it comes to the abuse of children. There used to be a similar unanimity about other matters as well but that is reducing. Divorce, abortion, gay marriage, LGBT rights are all no longer as clear as they used to be. Adultery, murder, lying, cheating generally have withstood the tide of post-Christian amoral thinking though there is a strong Atheist movement now that would, if it could, remove meaning from every moral stance of any sort.
Personally and reasonably there is a Truth who has spoken in the consciences of all men where the Christian gospel has spread whether they acknowledge it or not. This same Truth says, un-controversially that abusing children is wrong. He also says, controversially, that abortion on demand and LGBT “rights” are wrong but not everyone believes that anymore. In some countries in Europe the age of consent has been reduced to the age of young children. At the other end the call for assisted suicide and euthanasia is increasingly becoming louder.
However at the moment, children, in Ireland anyway, are sacrosanct. They are the line drawn in the sand by many people. So when a so-called Christian institution supports the abuse of children from the highest level down it is no wonder that the name of Jesus Himself is thrown out with the bathwater.
So there is now a body of people in this land that have become very angry at the attitude, behaviour and stance of the Roman Catholic hierarchy world wide to anything. So if the RC church is pro-life, anti-abortion these people take the opposite stance. This doesn’t help the objective truth of the matter nor those who are truly Christian who happen to believe that abortion on demand is wrong.