Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Roman Catholic church is good at....

In March this year, I have highlighted the news that Vatican has spent USD $436million in 2008 to compensate victims abused by its priests. Last month, a report about the cover up of sexual abuse cases done by the Roman Catholic priests in Ireland has been made public.

Earlier this year, in May, a report published by Ireland's Department of Justice, Equality, and Law Reform reveals that there are more than 12,000 victims of rape and abuse done in Catholic-run schools, workhouses, and orphanages.

The pope released a statement saying that he "does not want this swept under the carpet." But just a few months ago, in September, the pope's office failed to take the statement published by United Nations' Human Rights Council seriously. The statement, which was prepared by the International Humanist and Ethical Union criticizes Vatican's cover ups of clergy-implicated abuse cases. And Vatican's reply missed the point of the criticism by emphasizing that sexual abuses are not a unique phenomenon confined only among the Roman Catholics. The infallible ex cathedra pope repented or paying lip service?

Since 1950 until now, there are already more than USD $2 billion being paid out from the Roman Catholic church as compensation to victims of sexual abuse done by clergies.

The Jesuits, the intellectual arm of the Vatican, are not excluded from taking part in this abuse.

More stories from Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The Roman Catholic church claims that they are the "true church" because they have the Apostolic Succession. The question is "So what?" What's the big fuck fuss over this "Apostolic Succession" that they have a direct line of succession traces back all the way to apostle Peter? The Apostolic Succession does not guarantee truthfulness nor good theology nor, in this case, good conduct.

On this ground, the Roman Catholic church is no less 'untrue' than non-Roman Catholics. Just like all other Christian-related organization, be it church, para-church, association, or society, Vatican is just another fallen community which is subjected to judgment and redemption. So no point saying this particular church is the "true church" because it bears the four true marks of the church. And by the way, this criteria is defined by Vatican itself. "I'm the true church because I say so."

An indirect lesson to senior pastors, church elders, church planter and missionary: Don't assume you have started or own a 'true' church. (This assumption is nothing new. It's popular among cults. For eg. Joseph Smith and Ahn Sahng Hong thought so in very much the like of Vatican.)

I said this not to scorn those in church-related ministries, but as a reminder to myself as I have the desire to design and organize a church which I think provides a different model of doing church. I dare not claim or even to fantasize that model represents the 'true' church.


SK sfo said...

Dear Sze Zeng,

The prerogative of your opinion about the present crisis in the Catholic Church notwithstanding, I honestly do not see how it has anything to do with its doctrine of apostolic succession. The Catholic Church has never claimed that apostolic succession was ever a guarantee of good conduct.

But this is not what I'm here to comment on.

What I find more distressing about this post is the derogatory tone in which you have chosen to speak of another Christian tradition with which you disagree. Disagreement with such doctrinal claims is your prerogative, certainly, and nobody should rob you of that.

But the anger and lack of objectivity that comes through in your post, together with the disrespect towards another Christian tradition, is rather overly apparent here. Critique if you must, but with respect.

As a fellow (former) student of Trinity College, I implore you to consider how such a manner of writing might have caused injury to the ecumenical ethos of our seminary (which you have so openly, on this weblog, declared yourself to be studying in). Trinity has had a long history with the Catholic Church in Singapore.

Sherman Kuek, SFO
Your Roman Catholic brother

Sze Zeng said...

Dear Sherman,

Thank you for your comment.

Never has it occurred to me that apostolic succession guarantees good conduct, as the post has perceptively denote: The Apostolic Succession does not guarantee truthfulness nor good theology nor, in this case, good conduct.

The expression of antagonism is due to the triviality assumed by the Roman Catholic church over this issue. Any less deserved revulsion would not be just to such aberration.

The perceived lack of objectivity is very much an issue of commensuration depending on the evaluating party.

The Roman Catholic church's ostensible standing in her language of ecumenism and her supercilious condescending opinion on other Christian churches already serving as an open wound to the whole body of Christ. What I have posted here is simply an averment to this wound. Whether TTC has any history with anyone is beyond my solicitude.

SK sfo said...

Dear Sze Zeng,

Like I said, each Christian tradition is entitled to its own truth claim... I think on that point, we each agree.

Therefore, I would respect your disagreement with the Catholic position inasmuch as I would expect you to respect the Catholic position on other traditions.

But to use profanity in one's description of another's belief is a different thing all together, not to mention ad hominem attacks.

In any case, if you do insist that this is the way to go in order to prove your point, I can respect that.

Sze Zeng said...

Dear Sherman,

I accede that each tradition is entitled to its own truth claim.

Similarly, I respect your disagreement with the proclivity and viewpoint enunciated here. Digesting the coextensive profanity as an ad hominem on your part rightfully abets the altercation reciprocally since the applied malediction is a dued libation to the Roman Catholic church's dubious and smutty stances in the first place.

The fact that we both symmetrically evinced our own viewpoint is respectful in itself. You have my personal gratitude for this correspondence. :-)

Jud said...

Dear Sze Zeng,

With all due respect, I believe your arguments (inclusive of the subsequent comments) lack credit for reason that it so clearly displays insecurity, either that of yours of the protestant community at large. If I may be unreserved, let me express that your contention against the Catholic Church’s stance on it being the ‘true church’ and further, that that stance serves as an open wound is like that of a male telling the alpha male that he does not approve of the latter for being the alpha male.

Allow me to elaborate; by suggesting that the ‘true church’ dogma (of which the Vatican holds), to be a wound, you seem to suggest that the Vatican is first capable of inflicting such. Throughout my time researching theology, I have yet to come across a single instance at which the Vatican has held that any stance of the Protestant community (many of which are no doubt held strongly – I recall Luther’s cry that he could not go against his conscience captivated by the Word of God) was an open wound – an obstacle to ecumenism. Implicitly, this would suggest that only the Catholics are capable of wounding the other party – it would, further I propose, suggest that the Catholics are in the position of the upper-hand.

Personally, I believe those circumstances in the 16th century at which Rome did hold the upper-hand no longer exist. Hence, I suggest arguments should not sound like a victim pleading his case before a judge (the audience of your blog – in this matter). To a certain degree, I must admit that it brings embarrassment to see a fellow protestant argue from the position of the underdog. I believe that truly intellectual arguments are objective in that they first assume that both the debaters are on the same ground. I wish to submit that in this case (the debate between Catholics and Protestantism), the level is the same.

Further, I hope that in your review and analysis of the Catholics, esp. in your criticisms against the failure of morality amongst its practitioners and clergy; that you remember that the same occurs as frequently and with as much intensity as in the Protestant movement. Not much research needs to be done to prove it – the simple click of a news website reveal that our leaders are as much fallible as the practitioners of the Catholic faith (I note here that the infallibility of the church doctrine does not aver that its members are infallible, but that its institution is). Remember Ted Haggard? Or more recently, Benny Hinn’s divorce? Of course, I would further argue that as Protestants we are even more in danger of ‘cover-ups’ as we are a less visible entity than the Vatican. However, that would have to be left for another day.

Judson Lim

Sze Zeng said...

Dear Judson,

Thank you for the comment.

I'm not sure which juncture of the post bequeathed on you the impression of insecurity carried in me or the body of Christ that I'm part of. Your unreservedness certainly does not correspond to my contention. Instead of the discordant analogy you have provided, do allow me to present one that attunes with my contention. It is more like human A telling human B that human C is indeed 'human' in the face of human B's erroneous perception to refer human C as sub-human. Hope this would be sufficient elucidation. :-)

Yes, I do see that the Vatican as capable and is indeed inflicting such wound in the same way as any other Christian traditions are capable and also doing so. Thus I don't see where does the Protestant inferiority which you largely reacted to has a place in the post. I'm a bit astound to learn that you have not come across any instances at which Vatican's affliction to the body of Christ. An example would be their disallowance of Protestants to participate in the eucharist. Is this not an obstacle to ecumenism, depriving fellow Christians who are covered by the same redemptive holy blood from sacrament? (Unless, of course, you assumed Vatican's dubious and audacious language of 'ecumenism'.)

So rest assured that the skewed embarrassment that you have felt while reading this post was not necessary, natural or intended.

I do not deny the many problems among Protestant churches and I'm not sure where did you get the impression that I have. As such, I'll take your last paragraph as nothing more than an ignoble reminder.

Sharmini Xavier said...

Dear Seminarian,

You wrote and I quote “An example would be their disallowance of Protestants to participate in the eucharist. Is this not an obstacle to ecumenism, depriving fellow Christians who are covered by the same redemptive holy blood from sacrament?”
If you have chosen not to believe what we believe (i.e. transubstantiation) then in what way are we depriving you?

A Roman Catholic sister.

Sze Zeng said...

Dear Sharmini,

Thank you for the comment.

In what way are you depriving the rest of your brothers & sisters who are redeemed by the same body and blood?

This reminds me of an incident which happened during Chinese Reunion dinner. The marxist brother forbids his capitalist sister from eating the food he earned from his marxist ventures. The reason the brother gives is that the sister does not share his belief in marxism.

This picture prompts us to wonder should the eucharist, bearing the reality of Christ's body, manifest visibly the reality of brotherhood & sisterhood despite different traditions?

Or is it a visible symbol of segregation like the punctual wounds inflicted on the body of Christ by the Roman soldiers (in this case the Roman Catholic church)?

So, does one part of the body of Christ being deprived despite the differing belief on the substance of the eucharist? Yes.

Should that part of the body of Christ be deprived due to differing beliefs on the substance of the eucharist? No.

I am in a theological college where different traditions take turns to conduct the eucharist. None of us are deprived of the elements on the basis of differing belief in the substance of the eucharist.