Alt Amháin - Single Article


airgead  glas  oráiste  corcra  buí  liath

Please email your comments to:

All fair comments, criticisms and praise will be posted!

Pól Ó Lorcáin
Paul Larkin

Chroniclers are privileged to enter where they list, to come and go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome in their soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time and place.
Charles Dickens - Barnaby Rudge, Chapter The Ninth

The welcome collapse of the Catholic priesthood

Søren Kierkegaard - (5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855)

On his death bed, the thinker and writer Søren Kierkegaard refused to take holy communion from an ordained priest, or any official man of the cloth. Kierkegaard’s strong belief was that officially constituted priests were simply glorified bureaucrats whose trappings of office and assumed air of authority had nothing whatsoever to do with the search for the divine.

In fact, Kierkegaard had spent the last years of his life engaged in an increasingly vociferous attack on organised religion, most controversially when he announced that the then recently deceased head of the Lutheran church in Denmark could not be described as a “seeker of truth”. Kierkegaard, who had been a personal friend of the dead bishop, asked what possible connection there could be between the life of Jesus and the pomp and ceremony, not to mention arrogance, displayed by the state church. This may, good readers, have a familiar ring to it.

In the wake of the outrageous abuse scandals, Catholics are asking themselves the same kind of questions that Kierkegaard once posed. And it is important to point out the answer to these questions has implications both for those who believe in Christ and for those who have no faith. This is because one of Kierkegaard’s central arguments was very similar to that of Karl Marx. In a word, this was the theory of alienation from self and alienation from society.

Both Kierkegaard and Marx argued that, in the modern age, people would become estranged from themselves, their fellow man and their surroundings. Marx said that this was because they had become wage slaves for the twin Gods called Capital and Profit. In a parallel argument, Kierkegaard showed that people become unhappy when they are not able, or are prevented, from reflecting on spiritual matters and issues of faith. The modern age, he said, had replaced God with man but man was simply not up to the task of playing God and got sick even thinking about the role he was now asked to play.

Thus, either for economic or spiritual reasons, or both, people become alienated from the world and from God and suffer accordingly. These theories, which have never been disproved, are far better explanations in my view for the social sicknesses (what Dostoevksy called Civic Grief) that we see all around us rather than the Freudian argument about the urge to kill our fathers and bed our mothers.

Marx, of course, argued for social revolution so that people could combine freely in cooperative associations, Kierkegaard argued for a rejection of organised religion so that people could find time to think and remember God. But what is important in terms of Christian power blocks is that they both identified the fact that the Church (in its Catholic and Protestant guises) was at best an apologist for Capitalism and/or self aggrandizement and at worst a seeker of secular power and a wielder of an iron fist based on questionable doctrine. Rome was not the seat of power in the early days of Christianity but made itself so.

It is the absolute power that Catholic priests have been able to wield that allowed a worryingly large number of them to serially abuse children. We believed (and possibly needed to believe after the Famine) that they were Gods and they besmirched us. Now we must begin to think for ourselves, whilst not forgetting that there are prophets who did indeed come with Good News.

If we can take any comfort from what has happened, we can at least say that the black clad priests who perpetrated these vile deeds will never have the same power again. The collapse of the Church comes from its own hubris – its wicked pride before its plummeting fall due to its arrogant presumptions, avarice and insolence and, because of all this, it is a collapse that should be welcomed.

Catholics are now faced with the long term prospect of forming lay communities, which will carry out the functions that priests once did. This will inevitably involve women in much more central roles (they carry the Church anyway), gay people and (may God forbid!) those in second relationships. The forming of lay communities, meanwhile, which would control the means of production and exchange based on need rather than profit is a central tenet of Marxist thinking.

Bring it on.

As a postscript, one of the hundreds of regular Cic Saor readers has sent a brilliant image (from an impromptu traffic sign in Bavaria) that illustrates the new and very welcome awareness not only surrounding corrupt priests but also the need for us never to be silent again.

No comments yet:


Comments must be approved before being published.

Meta Information:

Title: The welcome collapse of the Catholic priesthood
Date posted: 05 Apr '10 - 23:31
Filed under: General
Next entry:  » The Easter Rising Meets The Life of Brian
Previous entry:  « File na hAlban - Scottish Poet Don Paterson gets the queen of England's seal of approval

Baile - Home