The Roman Catholic Church has split twice in its two millennium long run: first in 1054, not quite a thousand years ago, when the Eastern Orthodox Church split off, and then, just half a millennium ago, when part of the church splintered into an array of Protestant sects. Do the appalling new revelations of deep-rooted, pandemic, unending priestly sexual abuse of parishioners signal yet another existential crisis?
It does not seem to me likely that a theatrical display of hair shirt self-flagellation will suffice this time. These are not merely the inevitable failings of human beings called to a standard of sanctity beyond all but the handful of saints. As a lifelong atheist, I shun the use of the term “evil,” which has a religious meaning, but what is now being exposed to view must be seen by true believers as no less than the work of Satan himself.
I can fully understand how devout Catholics can continue to pray, to atone, to believe, but I cannot see how they can bring themselves to receive Holy Communion from a parish priest who, it is more than likely, is complicit in, aware off, in denial about, if not himself a participant in, the abusive acts.
But weighing as an anchor on the Church is the enormous accumulation of property and the career ambitions and awards of a worldwide bureaucracy of cardinals, monsignors, bishops, nuncios, abbots, and deacons.
There is a solution, of course. Let the nuns take over to cleanse Holy Mother Church.