Church Of The Dung Beetles
By Rod Dreher (submitted by DavidJB)
I would never, ever want to be on the wrong side of Catholic theologian Larry Chapp. He has just published straight fire. Excerpts:
There is a kind of bacterium and certain kinds of insects that live in, and feed off of, animal excrement. This trait is described scientifically in the Latinate adjective “fimiculous.” I can think of no better term to describe the current state of the Church, which seems intent on creating the conditions necessary for such creatures to not only live in the Church, but to thrive, and to predate on our young. My claim is that we are currently living in a fimiculous ecclesial era – i.e. in an era of an actively living, parasitical, and aggressively consumptive rot.
My further claim is that the Church is currently fimiculous because it had already become feculent (filled with excrement) decades ago due to its alliance with the Mammon and Moloch of bourgeois modernity. Dung beetles do not show up without cause and they would not be around were it not for the dung. Remember that. I will call it henceforth the “Chapp doctrine” which goes as follows: If you do not want fimiculous entities in your home, then your home should not be feculent.
But like a mentally ill old lady who lives with 87 cats, the Church over the past century has grown accustomed to the stench of our ecclesial litter boxes and all too comfortable with its malodorous presence. Indeed, for many, it apparently seems pleasant. For the Church seems to attract fimiculous bottom feeders like disgraced bishops McCarrick and Bransfield who flourish in the Church’s humid and dark, fungal netherworld of rich donors and sexual deviancy. Indeed, as we now see with the elevation of a clerical dung beetle like Cardinal “nighty night baby” Tobin to the congregation for bishops, the Church actively promotes its worst quislings to high office. And this follows on the heels of the equally troubling elevation of the Cardinal of cultural appeasement, Blaise Cupich, to the congregation for bishops. McCarrick’s former housemate, Cardinal Kevin Farrell (yet another cultural appeaser) was elevated to a Vatican post years ago, despite being the Sergeant Schultz of the episcopacy: “I see nothing! Nothing!”
And now we have the revelation that the prissy and mendacious Cardinal Donald Wuerl has been receiving two million dollars a year from the coffers of the Archdiocese of Washington to continue his “ministry” (whatever that is) with the apparent blessing of Cardinal Wilton Gregory. And all of these men – Cupich, Tobin, Gregory, Farrell, Wuerl – have about two degrees of separation from the perverted McCarrick and who nested in his poisonous tree with no apparent qualms of conscience. Of course, they are now all dutifully “appalled” at his transgressions, which only goes to show that they are all, every one of them, duplicitous liars and manifest frauds.
Such are the men that Pope Francis has rewarded with high office and who are, apparently, the kind of bishops he wants in the American hierarchy, a fact that demolishes any hope that he truly understands the American Church and what it is up against culturally. It also calls into question his pastoral wisdom since these appointments betray a tone deafness to the outrage American Catholics have over the McCarrick affair, a tone deafness already on display in the grand whitewash that was the Vatican’s so-called “report” on that scandal, wherein Francis was exonerated of any wrongdoing and most of the blame shifted to a long-deceased Pope who cannot defend himself. The report also had the stench of political opportunism hanging around it since it is precisely the magisterial legacy of John Paul that many of the court jesters in the Francis papacy want destroyed. If this is true, and I think it is, then the Vatican should be ashamed of itself for cynically using a real and serious scandal as a mere tool for undermining the influence of a previous pontiff.
And if all of this makes the rest of the American episcopacy uncomfortable you would never know it from their silence. Most American bishops, true to their managerial class instincts to not rock the boat, prefer to act as if life in the Church is just business as usual, even as they pay lip-service to the pesky “tragedy of the sexual abuse crisis” – a tragedy that they themselves created and for which they have never done any real public penance, even as they exempted themselves from canonical prosecution as well as their own absurd and useless “virtus” training that they demanded for the lay Church workers who were not the main source of the problem. Sadly too, not only have they never done public penance for their sins, but they also continue to treat the sexual abuse crisis as a kind of idiosyncratic “one-off” event that they portray as the product of a unique set of cultural circumstances, now in the past, rather than for what it truly was: the shocking irruption into full public view of the de facto atheism of the Church. An atheism that goes unaddressed even though it is the root cause of all of the crises we face. But this is what the “narrative of normalcy” demands and so the real crisis gets ignored, the real rot is merely covered over, like a band aid on a melanoma, and the flabby clericalism of the Church, with its culture of secrecy and its bourgeois epicureanism, continues unabated.
And he is just getting started! He goes on:
Can you tell that I am angry? The fact is I am beyond angry and have moved into the realm of a thoroughly justified righteous indignation – – nay – – outrage at the feckless insouciance toward the crisis we face by those who currently run the Church.
Strap yourself in and read the whole thing.
More power to Larry Chapp! Before I read this essay, this morning I recorded the next edition of The General Eclectic, the podcast I do with my Catholic pal Kale Zelden (and which is now at TAC, available through iTunes and on Spotify). We were talking about the sorry state of the American church in general (that is, not just the Catholic Church). I mentioned that it is past time for the laity to wait for the clerical class to ride in and save them. That’s not going to happen. I know good pastors and priests in various denominations who are worked to the bone. There are many more clergy, especially higher clergy, who may not suffer from the particular sins that Dr. Chapp identifies in the Catholic episcopacy, but who do suffer very much from a terror of rocking the boat, and who therefore content themselves with managing for decline.
We Americans, not just Catholics, live in what Chapp describes as “an era of an actively living, parasitical, and aggressively consumptive rot.” The churches, nearly all of them, are rotting too. They are in decline in terms of numbers. Discipleship is not happening (as the work of Christian Smith and his colleagues shows). And the small-o orthodox Christian churches — the ones who oppose the fast-rising tide of persecutorial social liberalism — are going to find themselves very soon under intense fire, not only from the state, but from other enemies. So are Christian schools and other institutions. So are Christian families, and individual Christians.
It’s not a case of “this might happen.” It’s happening now, and it’s going to get much worse. Again: don’t wait on church leaders to defend what the church is and teaches. But also don’t doubt your own ability to know the right thing and to do it. I spent a lot of time talking to Christian men and women of the Soviet bloc for Live Not By Lies, and the challenges they faced living out the faith under militant atheistic totalitarianism were much worse. This is not going to be easy, but it can be done, and it must be done. You can do it! We can do it!