Something big is happening in the Roman Catholic Church. I speak as an outsider, a non-believer, but also as an interested observer of the oldest continuous functioning bureaucracy in the Western world. The Church has undergone two great and apparently permanent schisms [along with many smaller ones]: The schism of 1054, which separated the Roman Catholic Church, headquartered in Rome, from what became the Eastern Orthodox Church, originally with its headquarters in Constantinople; and The Reformation, which splintered the Church and produced Calvinists, Lutherans, Methodists, Pietists, Baptists, Anglicans, Episcopalians, and even Quakers and Shakers. It is worth recalling that what we call The Reformation and date to 1517 was actually a three centuries long evolution, the eventual unfolding of which could not have been anticipated by John Calvin, Martin Luther, Jan Hus, Henry VIII, or any of the other significant players in that great drama.
The crisis now engulfing the Catholic Church has, it seems to me, three roots or causes, which are complicatedly intertwined. The first is of course the deep systemic corruption throughout the Church evidenced by the sexual scandals, which are so widespread and so completely implicate virtually the entire Church hierarchy that no palliative remedies can possibly succeed. The second, associated with the first, is the ever-greater difficulty of recruiting enough young men to staff the clergy and replace those dying out or retiring. The third is the attempt to bring the Church into the modern day by such reforms as celebrating the Eucharist in the vernacular, which, while to some degree successful, have triggered a powerful conservative backlash that reaches all the way to the Vatican.
As always, money, tradition, and entrenched interest operate against any fundamental change, but that was, if anything, more true half a millennium ago when the Protestant Reformation erupted, took hold, and split the Christian world.
I do not have a dog in this hunt, as they say down here in the Southland, so I am simply a fascinated observer. I rather doubt many of us will live long enough to see this play out to the end.