For centuries the Catholic Church, its internal workings shrouded in mystery, seemed to control the message and present an exalted, mystical face to believers and non-believers alike. Now, with simple DNA tests that can confirm paternity, social media that can connect people in like-minded situations, and the collapse of tolerance for one scandal after another, the Church is entirely losing control of its own narrative. The mystical and exalted face is looking pretty tawdry.
The latest scandal — the one after a global pedophilia crisis, then the one about priests and bishops raping nuns, then the one about ordained clergy falling off the wagon re celibacy — has to do with what the Vatican labels “children of the ordained.” Stands to reason that if the all-male supposedly celibate clergy is having sex, children are the result. The Vatican has rules for how these children are supposed to be regarded, which apparently do not include compelling their fathers to support them or providing for the children out of Church assets. The document outlining the rules is confidential. The Vatican will confirm that it exists, but not reveal the contents.
With DNA tests, it’s far easier to prove paternity. With social media, it’s easy to discover you’re not the only one and gain solidarity and a stronger voice. And with the collapse of tolerance, offspring of ordained clergy have a compelling public case to get better treatment from the still fabulously wealthy Catholic Church.
There’s no way the current confab of bishops in Rome is going to be able to confine their deliberations to the pedophilia scandal. Too much other bad stuff is hitting the fan.
I’m afraid Pope Francis, whose amiable and personally generous spirit was evident during his recent trip to Panama, is going to be know as the guy in charge when it all fell apart.