This Stinketh, and Jesus Must Be Weeping

John 11 tells the story of Lazarus’s death and resurrection. In the King James Version (KJV), John 11:39 says that Lazarus had been dead for four days when Jesus visited his tomb and that “he stinketh.” John 11:35, the shortest verse in the King James translation, reads, “Jesus wept.”

Annie and I usually eat dinner in front of the television and watch the PBS NewsHour. We try not to comment on the news, but that’s not easy these days!

On December 21, 2018, the NewsHour reported from the Vatican that Pope Francis suggested that all the priests who violated children turn themselves in to the authorities. Yikes! I couldn’t believe he would even suggest that silly idea.

I wondered out loud why Francis didn’t turn all of those priests over to the authorities himself. That would have been a good first step toward resolving the issue.

The next day, I scanned all the news trying to find a story about any priests who went right to the police station. Nada.

That night, I had this haunting thought: this stinketh, and Jesus must be weeping because Rome and Francis refuse to deal creatively with this travesty.

When he was elected almost six years ago, Pope Francis promised that the clergy abuse scandal was a top priority. A few months ago, he finally appointed a committee to study the issue further. To me, a committee is not a solution. It’s a cop-out.

I had high hopes for Francis when he was elected. But now, I have no expectations for him.

The clergy abuse problem is worse than originally thought. From my vantage point, the root cause is a no-brainer. It’s compulsory celibacy. for centuries, the church has pretended that it can neuter human sexuality. It can’t! As a result, priests have expressed their sexuality via innocent children, other men, nuns, housekeepers, and women congregants.

I think Francis knows all this. But by dealing openly with the sexual hang-ups of so many priests, he would open a Pandora’s box that could further damage the Catholic church.

But I have some easy solutions that could resolve the problem without opening Pandora’s box.

  1. Let priests marry.
  2. Recognize that the priesthood is full of gay men and always has been. Gays can love God and Jesus just as well as straights. They should also be allowed to marry and be priests—just like heterosexuals.
  3. Ordain women. They have been heavily involved in the Jesus movement since before it was Christian. Unfortunately, chauvinist priests have done everything they can to keep women in subservient roles for centuries. Stop! Return full church citizenship to women. And ladies, please don’t go to any church that won’t allow women to be ordained. Vote with your feet!
  4. Francis, stop trying to protect the Roman Catholic institution and start loving people, especially the ones who have been so abused by your clergy. You only add insult to injury when you and other Catholic leaders won’t root out the abuse permeating your church.
  5. Finally, Francis, you might have to purge much of your priesthood to clean up this mess, but until you do, all of Christianity suffers.

Man up and take responsibility, Pope Francis! End the clergy abuse scandal and get that stink and the sound of Jesus weeping out of my head.

Image courtesy of Terry Alexander (CC BY 2.0)

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