October 2018 marked a moment of upheaval in three major American institutions: the Catholic Church, the Supreme Court, and Miss America. Each of these organizations have a deeply rooted similarity of structure and power. We are witnessing the clash of the meaning of our bodies & the lust for power and dominance. As a result, the future of these cultural, political, and religious giants has been tarnished.
The Catholic Church’s current leaders have lost their moral authority
The Catholic Church has continuously taught the same moral tenets over 2,000 years without falter; however, the practice of such teachings is questionable. How many Catholics do you know have cohabited before marriage? How many Catholics do you know that have used IVF? How many Catholics do you know who have been divorced and remarried without an annulment? How many Catholics do you know who use artificial contraceptives or have chosen sterilization to make family planning choices? And I’m only talking about the laity here. Now comes to light the practices of the clergy who are charged to be the moral teachers, the role models for us in the practice of the faith. And to make matters worse, the hierarchy of the church spent time and resources in covering up the abuse rather than calling one another to holiness.
But then I think, how often do I call my lay brothers and sisters to holiness? Especially when it comes to sex. It is such a difficult topic to bring up and so intimate and personal to one’s heart. And yet, we see sex everywhere in our culture. So for something that is so overexposed, why is it so embarrassing to talk about? I think it’s because our innermost being is meant for union with Christ; and sex, the union between a man and a woman in a covenant relationship, is the outward sign of that inward reality. We all desire companionship and security. But when sex takes place outside of the marital embrace, that’s not safe at all. And then to introduce a power complex into the situation is so deeply invasive to our existence. Sexual abuse creates a deep wound that hits at the innermost desire given to us at creation, to love and be loved in return.
This crisis is not winding down either, October has marked the opening of a Grand Jury Investigation in many states including my own. While I hope and pray this is not going to provide any new names to us here in Maryland, it is going to showcase the dirty details. How is that going to affect us on the local level? What is the American church going to look like moving forward as state after state release their reports? I think it will kill all moral authority of the Catholic Church’s hierarchy unless we start hearing personal stories of seminarians and priests living out chastity joyfully to show a future, pure leadership. Because the overwhelming answer I am hearing now is, “allow priests to be married!” When in fact that is NOT the solution because the majority of abuse cases are male priests engaging in acts with post-pubescent boys (80%). These men don’t want to be married to a woman, they are expressing their same-sex attraction outwardly in a criminal way. I recommend reading an article from Psychology Today entitled “Separating Facts About Clergy Abuse from Fiction”; however, I think #3 in the article is lacking in targeting only pedophilia which is defined as sexual feelings directed toward prepubescent children (which is only characterized by less than 20% of clergy abuse cases). I also recommend reading this reflection from Commonweal Magazine entitled “The PA Grand Jury Report: Not What it Seems”.
The root of the church crisis is not just celibacy, it’s not just a lack of female leadership in the Church, it’s not just homosexuality in the priesthood, it’s so much deeper than that and cuts to the core of who we are meant to be: male and female He created them.
“The human body includes right from the beginning…the capacity of expressing love, that love in which the person becomes a gift – and by means of this gift – fulfills the meaning of his being and existence.” ~ Saint Pope John Paul II in his Theology of the Body address on January 16, 1980
The Supreme Court’s magnifying glass on the war between the sexes
Were you hooked to the TV on September 27th watching the Kavanaugh/Ford hearing? And were you even more shocked on October 6th when he was confirmed? Taking sides is brutal in any social circle. Who is telling the truth? Who is lying? Do they just not remember what happened? The conversation again cuts to the core of who we are as male and female and how we relate to one another. I feel like I am still reeling from that week in our nation’s history. I am very troubled that a woman would possibly claim something took place that didn’t. I am very troubled that a now Supreme Court Justice was overly defensive of his love of beer and did not mention any condemnation of underage drinking or alcohol abuse in young people. Listening to the hearing was very reminiscent of the feelings I had while watching the series, “13 Reasons Why”. I am disgusted that the premise of the show is that if teenagers mutually consent to a sexual interaction, that is something to be celebrated. The themes of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, assault, suicide, harassment, and so much more were highlighted as an everyday reality for teenagers. Sadly enough, I felt like I was listening to a Georgetown Prep party all wind down to the question of “consent” as being the determining factor of character. I hold my definition of character to be much higher than that.
The #MeToo movement has wound us up into a tight little ball around the word “consent” and the Kavanaugh/Ford hearing played right into the debate. Newsflash: consent is not enough. A committed covenant relationship between a man and a woman that is free, total, faithful and fruitful is the only safe sex out there. Don’t be fooled otherwise. And speaking of consent….I highly recommend reading this article by Simcha Fisher entitled 16 things Catholic girls should know about consent.
“Man, whom God created male and female, bears the divine image imprinted on his body ‘from the beginning.’ Man and woman constitute two different ways of the human ‘being a body’ in the unity of that image. “– TOB January 2, 1980
Miss America tries to embrace feminism and instead she implodes
As a former Miss America titleholder in the local Maryland system, I have been very closely following the downward spiral of this beloved pageant. Here’s the problem: an email was leaked between the former CEO and Board Chairman of Miss America as well as an ABC producer. The email included a derogatory comment by the male producer about women and the former Miss Americas as a group. The male CEO responded to the email, “bahahaha”. As a result, a slew of former Miss Americas called for the resignation of the CEO and other board members resulting in a complete overhaul of leadership to be replaced by females only. It worked and Sam Haskell resigned to be followed by Gretchen Carlson, Miss America 1989 and former Fox News Correspondent, as the new CEO.
Am I allowed to say, “I told you so!”? The burning at the stake of Sam Haskell for laughing at a crude joke has resulted in utter turmoil of the Miss America Organization. While Gretchen Carlson quickly worked towards a re-branding called Miss America 2.0 which most notably eliminated the swimsuit competition, she swiftly alienated her former supporters. Those who demanded for new leadership were now noticing that new leadership meant an entirely new pageant….I mean competition! The beloved traditions and history of Miss America are disappearing. For example, on the live telecast of the pageant this year the contestants (now called candidates) no longer were allowed to introduce themselves as “Miss Maryland” or “Miss New York” instead they just said “Representing Maryland” for example. The evening gown competition might no longer be filled with elegant gowns, but instead whatever outfit is a personal expression of the candidate (so pant suits accepted). They removed the runway from the stage so that the ladies do not model their outfits anymore, they simply stand and answer questions. And finally they didn’t play “There She Is” at the crowning moment.
Didn’t you sit on your dad’s lap as he sang this song to you as a little girl?? Or was that just me….
So now fast forward to 2019….ratings have dropped, local competitions are struggling to find contestants, and the 2018 Miss America, Cara Mund, continues to release her story and expose of Gretchen Carlson’s bullying and manipulative behavior once she took power. Now I don’t know the details and what is truly taking place behind the scenes, but ultimately the Miss America Organization is imploding. And all under the baton of the self-proclaimed “founder of the #MeToo movement”: Gretchen Carlson.
The body, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world the mystery hidden since time immemorial in God [God’s love for man], and thus to be a sign of it. – TOB February 20, 1980
So what do they all have in common? They all need a little more TOB.