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Corruption in the Catholic Church

Corruption in the Catholic Church

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Published by ericc8
Another school assignment... An annotated bibliography on a topic of my choice.
Another school assignment... An annotated bibliography on a topic of my choice.

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Published by: ericc8 on Jan 21, 2010
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03/22/2013

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Crosson 1Eric CrossonMrs. Julie PasterchickEnglish III GT/AP 1315.613 December 2009Corruption in the Catholic ChurchCorruption has plagued the Catholic Church since its origin. Regardless of how much publicitythis corruption is given, individual followers of the Church seem indifferent to the embezzlement ofchurch funds, threats of excommunication to influence people in positions of political power, andsexual abuse of minors. Though the Church tells its followers to be selfless, loving, and honest, it rarelyfollows its own advice. This hypocrisy should revoke the right of the Church to tell people how to livetheir lives because internal corruption interferes with the Church's title as a Holy Authority.Though corruption has always been present in the Church, the first time the Church's authoritywas brazenly challenged was during the early 1500s. In 1517 Martin Luther protested the practice ofthe selling of indulgences, or pardons for future sins. He declared that faith, not a person's actions,could qualify a sinner for God's repentance. Luther thought that the only basis of true faith was thebible. This was recognition that important members of the Church are still human, and therefore notabove making mistakes (Salmon).Soon thereafter, a rival faith founded by John Calvin gave pastors the power to excludeindividuals from the Church, thus giving them power over the government. During this era, it was veryimportant to maintain a good relationship with the Church in order to preserve a good public image andsecure one's position of power. Excommunication from the Church left a permanent scar on one'spolitical record and annihilated any hope of holding public office again.The excommunications of King Henry VIII of England in 1533 and Queen Elizabeth I in 1570are perhaps the best known cases of a church official using excommunication in order to achieve an
 
Crosson 2ulterior motive. For several years Pope Clement VII had threatened Henry with excommunication ifHenry did not take back his first wife Catherine. However, by the time of the actual pronouncementagainst the king, other reasons for the excommunication had arisen. The excommunication of Elizabethsevered any ties to the Church while simultaneously freeing her subjects from their oath of loyalty toher. This gambit had been largely motivated in hope that she would be quickly deposed. Unfortunatelyfor the Pope this had the opposite effect. The excommunication created an upsurge of support forElizabeth and instilled fear of interference from a foreign power. This made the continued existence ofCatholics in England almost impossible, as they had been forced choose between allegiance to theircountry and allegiance to their religion (O'Malley).The Church still exercises the right to excommunicate people. Father Tissa Balasuriya iswaiting to be officially notified by the Vatican that he is excommunicated as a heretic and dismissedfrom the clerical state. The “heresy” that Balasuriya has committed was the act of writing acontroversial book of very limited availability. In Mary and Human Liberation
 
, he slightly downplayedcertain aspects of Christian theology in order to make Christianity more accessible and appealing toBuddhists and Hindus. His sole aim was to encourage more people to convert to Christianity in order tosave their eternal souls. Three years after his book was published, it attracted the attention of hiscountry's bishops and led eventually to a standoff with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith(“Excommunication is an Inordinate Threat”).Balasuriya’s former congregation now demands that he sign a “Profession of Faith” – aprofession that, to his knowledge, no other theologian has ever been required to sign. For his refusal,pending a response to his appeal to the pope, Balasuriya will be removed from the community that hehas devoted his life to benefiting.If such an action was warranted, wouldn't it be enough for the pope to simply condemnBalasuriya's book? At the very least, this life-long servant of the Church deserves a full and fair hearing
 
Crosson 3before his accusers. To date, his efforts to defend himself in writing have been expediently dismissed as“unsatisfactory” (“Excommunication is an Inordinate Threat”).One of the fundamental goals of Catholicism, as is taught (but not demonstrated) by the Church,is the breaking of ties to spiritually-hindering material goods. According to one of Jesus’ legendaryparables, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter thekingdom of God" (
The Holy Bible: King James Version
, Matt. 19.24). Perhaps Brian Lisowski, pastorof St. Bede the Venerable in Chicago, Illinois, should have heeded such advice. Lisowski was caughtafter embezzling more than $1.1 million during his five year tenure at St. Bede's. Every week, he would“liberate” more than $2,500 out of the tithe collected from the parishioners before the money wascounted.
U.S. Catholic
magazine stated that “if [Lisowski] had not stepped down, the embezzlementmight have continued indefinitely.” Before the police investigators could confront Lisowski, he hadsigned himself into a treatment center for alcoholism. He later readily admitted guilt to theembezzlement charges and procured all of the missing money. He served two years in prison for hiscrimes and is no longer incarcerated. What action is the Church taking in response to the more than onemillion dollar theft? Father William Stenzel (Lisowski's replacement) says that “St. Bede parishionersunderstand his actions were alcohol-related and are inclined to forgive. The parish council unanimouslyrecommended that, if his treatment proves successful, Lisowski be returned to active ministry”(McClory).The Church has methods of diverting attention from such occurrences. There are countlessrebuttals from devout Catholics which attest that the actions of corrupt individuals do not reflect theintent or actions of the organization as a whole. However,
U.S. Catholic
continues to read “you mightconsider this sad affair an anomaly, a rare deviation from the norm in Catholic institutions. But it is notas rare as you might think. A random scan of newspaper stories mentioning embezzlement in theCatholic Church published during the month of July 2008 produced a dozen cases.” Seven of these

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