The Catholic Church is in one grand mess chiefly because it refuses to understand the Biblical teaching about God's good gift of sex.
The Catholic position has been that the higher level of holiness is celibacy, while the next level down is the conjugal relationship — marriage — for those too weak to abstain.
Yet, the Bible presents sex as the Creator's gift to the human race when used within the divine boundaries — that is, marriage.
The Catholics have a long history of defying Scripture by taking their own course in defining doctrinal as well as life issues. Every time the Catholic hierarchy has done this, the Catholic Church has ended up in trouble.
For the first thousand years, the Catholic Church had married priests. Numerous popes then were married. Further, if the Catholic Church defines its first pope as Peter, it should understand that he was married, for Jesus healed his mother-in-law. The Catholic Church does not seem to recognize this origin; for the Catholic Church appears not to know or recognize its own Bible.
Does not the Catholic Church leadership realize that they are committing blasphemy by undercutting the express Word of the Divine with their own manufacturing? Evidently hubris in the main continues in the driver's seat.
Doesn't the Catholic Church realize that the Scriptures state that the bishop is permitted one wife? The Catholic leadership continues to set aside the clear Word in order to hold to their preconceived definitions about cleric holiness.
Now the Catholic Church has boxed itself in. It has for years been going astray of the Scriptures and is now reaping its own due. Unfortunately, this is bringing tremendous pain to the innocent devout as well as to the purposefully disobedient.
With priests numbering less and less, the Catholic Church can hardly live with the loss of another priest. Yet that is exactly what is happening time and again. As priests are now being found out to be perpetrating sex crimes, they are disappearing from their parishes, leaving more congregations to go without religious leadership.
It is lamentable that such a large segment of the religious should remain in the dark regarding Biblical truth.
It is the Word that liberates. It saves. It gives hope and cleansing. It provides us with holy teaching. Why then does not the Catholic Church bow in humility before the eternal Word and so be saved, cleansed, and enlightened with God's hope?
It appears clear that today God is bringing divine judgment upon the Catholic Church. God's justice demands this, just as His judgment has come upon errant Protestants. All who knowingly disobey the explicit Word pay, and severely.
God, in His love, must also exercise His judgment. The two dimensions of the Deity's personhood are in perfect eternal balance. They therefore express themselves in human history with perfect timing.
What we Christians are witnessing each day is the working out of divine love in perfect balance with divine justice. God loves His people and so wants them to know His grace in purity. God loves His people and so cannot tolerate, without heaven's warning, their continuing in waywardness.
Over a billion dollars has been paid out to victims of priests' criminality. Scores of parishes are now without priestly leadership. Those who claim to be of the "one true church" malign the name of Christ. Religious hierarchy is in a bind because of their own disregard for the Bible. Children are left with suspicions about their church leadership. Parents are fearful of their own church leadership. Some innocent priests have been accused unfairly of sex abuse crimes. Time and energy are now diverted to handling lawsuits instead of the church's mission.
All of the above are taking place before our eyes because the Catholic Church for years has been disobeying the plain Word regarding God's good gift of sex within marriage. Catholic lawmakers have substituted their own egocentric legislations for the eternal truth. They have planted their own structural prowess in the center of their religion rather than humbly yielding to the Scriptures.
Now Catholic pride is crumbling. Its power is struggling for balance. Fear is looming. Anger is increasing. The devout feel betrayed, lied to, robbed from, and left to fend for themselves.
It makes me angry. But more than that. It makes me so very sad.
I feel so sad for the well-meaning in their pews, wondering who to have faith in, where to turn, what offering to give for fear that it is going to lawsuits rather than to feed the poor.
I feel so sad for those in the pulpit who have given their best but now must wear the awful mask of the disobedient due to association by collar.
I feel so sad for those children who will now grow up going into a sanctuary left to wonder if the person at the front of the room is one who can be believed.
I feel so sad for the mothers and fathers who must now stand at a distance from their spiritual leadership, knowing that reality has proven that not all of those wearing the cleric garb can be trusted with their sons and daughters.
I feel so sad for the Book — the Holy Scriptures. It is the fount of knowledge, the way to salvation, the opening to heaven, the solace for comfort, and the hope for those in pain. Yet it has been so often replaced in the Catholic Church by the pronouncements of the pope or the wishes of the human power clique in one geography or another.
I feel so sad for Jesus Who, once again, is being smeared by those who claim to know Him, but know Him not.
All around it is an exceptionally sad day for those who feel for the work of Christ, for those who have lived out their commitment truly in the light of the eternal Book.
- J. Grant Swank, Jr.