When Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis on the door of a Catholic Church more than 500 years ago, it was not meant to be a declaration of war. He merely wanted to bring to attention the unbridled greed, the corruption and immorality in the church. He particularly condemned the sale of indulgences that shamelessly promoted the lie that it would reduce one`s suffering in purgatory and reminding the faithful that every time a coin was dropped in the coffers of the church, the soul of a dearly departed in purgatory would wing its way to heaven.
He also spoke out against priestly celibacy. For the first 1100 years of the Catholic church popes, cardinals, bishops and priests were allowed to marry. It eventually dawned on them that they had for centuries supported the families of married clergy once they had passed away. This was of course a great financial drain. So they mandated priestly celibacy by teaching priests that they should be unmarried like the apostles so that they can devote all their time and energy in preaching the Good News to the world. With a wife and family, the priests would be burdened with serving the needs of his wife and children and therefore unable to fully serve God. After all, one cannot serve two masters at the same time. They conveniently failed to mention Peter who was was not only married but had an ailing mother-in-law to worry about. Neither did they explain why Christ would choose this married person not only to build his church but to make him the very first pope.
Anyone with a little knowledge of the Bible would know that God looked compassionately upon the solitude of Adam and noted it was not right that man should be alone. He created Eve and like a loving Father gave her to Adam who said, “ that is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and the two of them become one body.“ God blessed their union and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the world he had created. Thousands of years later, Christ would bless the union of a man and woman at the marriage feast of Cana, thereby instituting the sacrament of matrimony.
The Catholic clergy faithfully followed the teachings the church. They did not marry. Instead, popes, cardinals, bishops and priests had mistresses. The most notorious one being Pope Alexander VI who had four mistresses and several illegitimate children. Others resorted to clerical sexual abuse and today we are aghast to learn that from the eastern shores of Australia to the western regions of Chile, the sun never set on the clerical abuse in the Catholic Church
One should not tar everyone with the same brush. There are countless good priests who work tirelessly for the good of the poor, the marginalized and the downtrodden. And let us not forget the martyrs who laid down their lives in order to spread the Gospel. But it is certainly heart-breaking to note the clerical abuses were not isolated incidents but rampant across the globe and shocking to learn the Catholic hierarchy was turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to those abuses that have rocked the church to its very foundations.
Of particular interest is the Residential Schools that were set up by the Canadian government and run mainly by the Catholic church. The policy of the Canadian government was to get the “Indian“ out of the child. According to documents, Residential Schools were introduced in 1833 as a nationwide program of assimilation based on the assumption that when the school is on the reserve, the child lives with its parents who are savages: he is surrounded by savages. He is simply a savage who is simply being taught to read and write. Therefore the children were forcefully taken away and put into Residential Schools far away from their parents. They were robbed of their language, their art, their culture, emotionally, physically and sexually abused. More than 4,000 children died in these schools and their parents were not informed. The Canadian Prime Minster, Justin Trudeau has demanded an apology from Pope Francis. It does not seem to be forthcoming and according to the Catholic Church, particularly by one Catholic priest, Father Raymond de Souza, a well know writer and columnist for the National Post who keeps on insisting that an apology was given by Pope Benedict XVI. The truth of the matter is that Pope Benedict XVI offered his regrets and in due course, resigned, leaving Pope Francis with the task of cleaning up the filth in the Catholic Church.
For centuries, the church was aware of the clerical sexual abuse and yet they failed to do act responsibly. They covered up the abuses and transferred the offending priest to another parish where he continued the same abuses. They were more interested in the image of the church than in the suffering of thousands of children the world over. They did not seem to comprehend the wrath of God. It is clearly spelled out in the Bible when the Lord God says: “Woe to the shepherds who have been pasturing themselves. Should not shepherds, rather pasture sheep.“ And the Bible further tells us that if one is committing an offence that person should be made aware of his errors and called to repentance. If this is not done then the sinner and the one who failed to do his duty are both guilty in the eyes of the Lord. In one of the most damning and strongest condemnation against sins against children is again clearly stated that if one scandalizes little ones, it is better that a millstone be tied around his neck and he be drowned in the depths of the sea.
One can only conclude that offending priests were sure their superiors were so eager to protect the image of the church and their morbid fear of multiple law suits, that nothing would be done. Perhaps, just a slap on the wrist. So for centuries they carried on their merry ways.