I sent this letter nervously to the Guardian Weekly back in June, was relieved when they didn’t publish it. Now I think, “What the heck?” Silence is collusion. To not speak is to betray those courageous women and men risking their lives, not just their comfort-zones, for truth and freedom in Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Libya…
Towards a Catholic Spring?
How is it that the Vatican still gets away with such moral, political and spiritual skulduggery? (Vatican engulfed by whistleblower wars, 8 June). Its abuse of power is as rank, opaque and unaccountable as any junta’s; it infantilises Catholics by usurping the primacy of individual conscience and gagging dissent; in order to corner the God-market and control consumers, it uses guilt, fear and shame generated by anachronistic, redemptionist theology; its denial of the basic human right of contraception to women is a crime against humanity and the planet; its virulent misogyny differs only in degree from the Taliban’s.
What the hell am I doing in such a church? Yet Catholicism is as innate in me as race or gender; I can’t extirpate it. What’s more, I’m a convert. For within the corruption lies a pearl of great price I’ve found nowhere else in a lifetime of searching. The Eucharist – living water, homoeopathic God, the fractal moment when the finite and infinite touch – is still radically amazing me after fifteen years.
The dysjunction between form and substance, between the institutional and sacramental church, is so extreme it’s schizoid; going to Mass is both beloved home-coming, and collusion in intolerable injustice. As the Berlin Wall and apartheid have crumbled, so must this moribund and corrupt theocracy undergo the very death and rebirth it preaches. It’s time to liberate Christ as iconoclast; as exemplar of justice and mercy; as embodiment of Gandhi’s satyagraha – autonomy and compassion in taut, truthful dance; as transcendent potential struggling to be born in each of us.
I yearn for congruence; for a passionate, creative, authentic, inclusive, questioning, mystical spirituality. All power to the whistleblowers. Occupy the Vatican? A Catholic spring in St Peter’s Square? Why not?
Peace be doughtily with you all.