Does the Catholic Church Need to Reform to Survive?

Following the BBC’s program ‘The Big Questions’ this morning (17/2/2013) I decided to contact one of the panelists Timothy Stanley, asking about some of his views expressed and including those in his Telegraph blog post ( ‘Pope Benedict XVI resigns: the mainstream media just doesn’t get god or Catholicism’. I think they do Tim.

Dear Dr Timothy Stanley,

I’m writing to you after watching ‘The Big Questions’ this weekend and have a few questions based on your outlook on the Catholic church and your recent article ‘Pope Benedict XVI resigns: the mainstream media doesn’t get God or Catholicism’.

Firstly it’s well understood that in modern societies religions are reformed by secular pressures, indeed a move away from the faith and its scripture is a move towards modernity and respect for human rights above the commands of hysterical, patriarchal, totalitarian institutions. I find your ‘media sins’ to be false and have taken the time to reply to these and how they reflect your logical and intellectual dishonesty or ignorance on these topics.

You refute the media’s typical definition of Benedict as conservative? To say that within Catholicism there is no right or left and therefore no conservatism is like saying: within the BNP there is no right or left, within the Third Reich there was no right or left; therefore Nick Griffin or indeed Adolf Hitler could not be considered right wing conservatives. This is obviously nonsense and compared to a modern society with regard for equality and human rights Pope Benedict can comfortably be considered a conservative. The pope is appropriately considered conservative against the societal spectrum of political ideals within which the church operates.

You make the claim that Benedict’s resignation is in no way indicative of the church being in decline. While the reasons can’t currently be known your statement certainly suggests that there is not a heightened dislike for Benedict which is echoed in your previous post ‘Pope Benedict will be missed’. Benedict is an elderly celibate man who associates with holocaust deniers and is heavily implicated in the cover of abuses; the worst of the Catholic Church encompassed in one man. It’s naïve to suggest that Catholicism is on the rise and absolutely reasonable to deduce that these offenses are likely causes of his resignation.

With regard to the airtime afforded to the Pope’s critics your analogy certainly falls short of any relevance. The pope will probably have a ‘sending off’ party which will in fact, be extended to his prolonged accommodation within the Vatican City to protect him from international law. Of course Richard Dawkins would not be invited, what your asking is for people to keep their criticisms to themselves in the public sphere. In the examples of likely topics for criticism your flippant nature towards one of the Catholic Church’s most abhorrent grievances regarding women’s rights over their own bodies is an ugly reflection of these attitudes. Are you bored of hearing people criticise the church for its human rights offenses?

While it’s refreshing for a Catholic to admit the nature of religion you can’t seriously be suggesting that reform is not needed? Or that the church has not already been significantly reformed? Do you believe it to be a good thing that the church remains dogmatic in the face of rising secular change towards genuine morality, ethics, equality and scientific progress?

The Catholic Church either requires reform or sending back to the 1st century.



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