Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Identity crisis: church or state?

I used to find no contradiction in the concept of the Vatican being both a globally-recognized independent state on the one hand and the headquarters of the Catholic Church on the other.  The Vatican state is not the Church, nor even is the Vatican as religious institution the Church.  But with the outbreak of hostilities in Europe over pervert priests and their coverup, I'm beginning to see the huge cracks. 

The indomitable vaticanista Sandro Magister simply ignores the cracks in his coverage of the Belgian raid on Church records, without even blinking:
The searches ordered by the Belgian judiciary – called "brutal" by no less than the country's justice minister, Stefaan De Clerck – are not at all reassuring. There the Church has been considered on a par with a gang of criminals.
I guess one should expect this sort of irony when your hymnography has been emptied of pieces like "Criminal on the Cross," or has gutted the sanctoral and liturgical cycle of any significant veneration of St. Dismas.

So let me get this straight: we worship a God who did not see it beneath Him nor cried of injustice to be crucified "on a par" with vile criminals for being perfectly God and perfectly man, but we His latter-day disciples are offended that the mighty Roman Empire the Belgian police scourged and crucified without due process of law searched and seized diocesan records via judicial process on the grounds that we innocently and bravely preached the Gospel abused children in the name of Jesus Christ and have consistently covered up for our pervert priests.  If only Jesus were treated so kindly for being such a criminal perfectly righteous and blameless. 
Not only in Belgium and the United States, but a little bit everywhere, there is a growing tendency to judge the nature and organization of the Church while ignoring what it is and its unique original organizing principles, which nonetheless have entered into the best legal culture and have been recognized by internationally valid pacts. 
I almost got whiplash reading that last line.  Magister sets up a nice teaching moment with "while ignoring what it [the Church] is and its unique original organizing principles."  I was ready for a clear-eyed exposition of eucharistic ecclesiology or something.  Instead we get awkward flattery about "the best legal culture" and "internationally valid pacts."  Right.  Cuz that's precisely what Jesus purposefully availed himself of when he faced Pilate and the Sanhedrin. 

The rest of the Magister's post goes on to lecture us about the principle of sovereign immunity.  The simple syllogism here is: Vatican is a State; States have immunity; therefore Vatican has immunity.  Period, cuz international law says so and the Church has always taken shelter under the Patronage of St. Ius Gentium the Archangel.  It's like playing Truth or Dare.  Church or State?

Related: If this Wamp is Christianity in the public square, who can blame anyone for going with ardent public square secularism?