A comment following my post yesterday asked why I care at all about what happens to the structure of the Roman Catholic church, or about whether it might change from bottom-up after changes from the top-down have clearly failed.
Actually, I wrote the post as a result of discovering yet another of my unrecognized Catholic assumptions. You’d think after almost half a century during which I no longer considered myself a Catholic that I wouldn’t still be discovering ways in which I am unconsciously thinking like one. But it was only when I heard someone express the view that if Pope Francis can’t change the Vatican-controlled structure of the church, he will be a failure that I recognized this same unspoken assumption in my own thinking.
A study of history shows that power is rarely yielded by those who hold it. Cultural and social structures change when the people no longer recognize their authority as legitimate. Why would the Roman Catholic church be any different? It won’t.
Do I care? I do not take my direction from the church. But many people do, and in that sense, I care to the extent that any powerful institution is as bigoted and sexist as the Roman Catholic church so often is. But I do not see myself involved in any attempts to try to change that particular institution – from below, from above, or from the outside.
One thing I do ponder occasionally, however, is the recognition that some of my values were rooted in my early socialization as a Catholic. They are values like a respect for truth, for the rights of others, for the value of work. Not uniquely Catholic or even Christian values. But it is where I first learned them.
I am grateful.