Modern criticism of the Catholic Church | Wikipedia audio article

By | September 5, 2019


The Catholic Church has been subject to criticism
throughout its history for its beliefs and practices. Criticisms of the Catholic Church’s religious
beliefs and practices have often led to breaks with other Christian groups, such as the schism
with the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Church has also been criticized
for its active efforts to influence political decisions, such as the Church’s promotion
of the Crusades and its involvement with various 20th century nationalist regimes. More recent criticism focuses on alleged scandals
within the Church, particularly alleged financial corruption and the Catholic Church’s sexual
abuse scandals.==Internal=====Use of Latin===Before the reforms from Vatican II in the
late 1960s the Catholic Church was best-known outside the church for the Tridentine Mass,
said mostly in Latin with a few sentences in Ancient Greek and Hebrew. Since 1970, the Mass has been celebrated in
the local language of where it is celebrated and the Mass in Latin less frequently. A minority of Roman Catholics however prefer
the Mass to be celebrated in Latin, generally arguing that the Latin text is more authentic,
and truer to scripture and doctrine than the Mass of Paul VI. However, in 2007, Pope Benedict XVI loosened
some restrictions on its use with the aim of healing the rift that had come about between
advocates of the Novus Ordo Mass and those of the Tridentine Mass.The 2007 motu proprio
Summorum Pontificum, allowing a wider use of the Tridentine Mass raised concerns in
the Jewish community regarding a prayer in the Good Friday liturgy which contained a
prayer “For the conversion of the Jews” referring to Jewish “blindness” and prays for them to
be “delivered from their darkness.” The American Jewish Committee pointed out
that this raises “negative implications that some in the Jewish community and beyond have
drawn concerning the motu proprio.” In response to such complaints, Pope Benedict
XVI in 2008 replaced the prayer in the 1962 Missal with a newly composed prayer that makes
no mention of blindness or darkness.===Traditionalist Catholics===Some Traditionalist Catholics see the Church’s
reforms in liturgy and teaching following the Second Vatican Council as contrary to
the traditional teaching of the Church. Some groups, such as the Society of St. Pius
X, have rejected certain decisions of the Holy See that they see as harmful to the faith.===Clerical celibacy===In the Catholic Church priestly celibacy is
seen as a charism bestowed by the Holy Spirit, enabling one to make a total commitment of
oneself in service of the kingdom of God. The scriptural basis for this is found in
Matthew 19:12 and 1 Corinthians 7:32-35. Married men can be ordained to the permanent
diaconate, but only unmarried men may be ordained priests. As celibacy is a discipline rather than doctrine,
it can be abrogated in particular situations, as when, for example, married Anglican priests
are ordained to the Catholic priesthood to minister in personal ordinariates. (Members of the Anglican hierarchy found the
creation of the personal ordinariate “insensitive”.)Some Eastern Rite Catholic Churches, such as the
Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church allow the ordination of married men as priests. Only unmarried men may be ordained to the
episcopate. Priestly celibacy continues to be the subject
of a good deal of discussion. Proponents who view this as something that
should be revisited say that it precludes otherwise qualified candidates from the priesthood,
noting a shortage of priests in some areas.===Ordination of women===The teaching of the Catholic Church on ordination,
as expressed in the Code of Canon Law, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the
apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, is that “only a baptized man validly receives
sacred ordination” According to Roman Catholic thinking, the Priest is acting ‘in persona
Christi’ (that is, in the Person of Christ). In 1979, Sister Theresa Kane, then president
of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious challenged Pope John Paul II from the podium
at Washington, DC’s Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to include women “in all ministries
of our Church.”In his Apostolic Letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis (1994), Pope John Paul II, said
the “Priestly ordination, …has in the Catholic Church from the beginning always been reserved
to men alone.” He cited the Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith’s, (under Pope Paul VI) Declaration Inter Insigniores on the question of the Admission
of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood, and declared that “the Church has no authority
whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively
held by all the Church’s faithful.” The reasons given included: “the example recorded
in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his Apostles only from among men; the constant
practice of the Church, which has imitated Christ in choosing only men; and her living
teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the
priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan for his Church.” Some groups, nonetheless, say the matter should
still be open for discussion. Dissenters do not regard Ordinatio sacerdotalis
as definitive Church teaching. In June 2018 Pope Francis said, “We cannot
do this with Holy Orders (women priests) because dogmatically we cannot. Pope John Paul II was clear and closed the
door and I’m not going to go back on that. It [John Paul’s decision] was serious, it
was not a capricious thing.”Since Vatican II, women have taken an increased role in
the Church. In 1994, the Vatican Congregation for Divine
Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments formally interpreted the 1983 Code of Canon
Law, stating that women could assist at Mass as acolytes or altar servers. Women also serve as lectors and extraordinary
ministers. Still many people see the Church’s position
on the ordination of women as a sign that women are not equal to men in the Catholic
Church, though the Church rejects this inference. In a separate but related issue, Pope Francis
set up the Pontifical Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women to study women deacons
in the early church, to help answer the question of whether women could also serve as deacons
today. The Commission submitted its report to Pope
Francis in January 2019.==Interfaith=====Judaism===In the Middle Ages, religion played a major
role in driving antisemitism. Adversus Judaeos (“against the Judeans”) are
a series of fourth century homilies by John Chrysostom directed to members of the church
of Antioch of his time, who continued to observe Jewish feasts and fasts. Critical of this, he cast Judaism and the
synagogues in his city in a critical and negative light. The use of hyperbole and other rhetorical
devices painted a harsh and negative picture of the Jews. This was largely ignored until the Jewish
anti-Christian teachings began to surface in Muslim Andalusia in the 11th and 12th centuries. According to historian William I. Brustein,
his sermons against Jews gave further momentum to the idea that Jews are collectively responsible
for the death of Jesus. “Over the course of time, Christians began
to accept… that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for killing Jesus. According to this interpretation, both the
Jews present at Jesus’ death and the Jewish people collectively and for all time, have
committed the sin of deicide, or God-killing. For 1900 years of Christian-Jewish history,
the charge of deicide has led to hatred, violence against and murder of Jews in Europe and America.”In
1998, Pope John Paul II apologized for the failure of Catholics to help Jews during the
Holocaust and acknowledged that Christian anti-semitism might have made Nazi persecution
of the Jews easier, calling them “our elder brothers” in the faith.===Russian Orthodoxy===
In 2007, then Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow objected to what he termed “proselytizing”
by clerics of the Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church. Catholic officials replied that their efforts
in Russia were not aimed at Orthodox believers, but were reaching out to the vast majority
of Russians who are not churchgoers. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
rejected the characterization of “proselytizing” and said that respect towards non Catholic
Christians must not negate the possibility of conversion, if an individual should so
chose.===Protestantism===Common factors that played a role during the
Reformation and the Counter-Reformation included the rise of nationalism, simony, the appointment
of Cardinal-nephews, the sale of indulgences, and other corruption in the Roman Curia and
other ecclesiastical hierarchy, the impact of humanism, the new learning of the Renaissance,
the epistemological shift between the schola moderna and schola antiqua within scholasticism,
and the Western Schism that eroded loyalty to the Papacy. Key events of the period include: the Council
of Trent (1545–1563); the excommunication of Elizabeth I (1570) and the Battle of Lepanto
(1571); the adoption of the Gregorian calendar under Pope Gregory XIII; the French Wars of
Religion; the Long Turkish War; the final phases of the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648);
and the formation of the last Holy League by Innocent XI during the Great Turkish War. Protestants hold doctrinal differences with
the Catholic Church in a number of areas, including the understanding of the meaning
of the word “faith” and how it relates to “good works” in terms of salvation, and a
difference of opinion regarding the concept of “justification”, and Catholic Church’s
belief in Sacred Tradition as a source of revelation complementary to Sacred Scripture. Some scholars of Early Christianity are adherents
of the New Perspective on Paul and so believe “sola fide” is a misinterpretation on the
part of Lutherans and that Paul was actually speaking about laws (such as Circumcision,
Dietary laws, Sabbath, Temple rituals, etc.) that were considered essential for the Jews
of the time.===Islam===
In September 2006, Pope Benedict XVI delivered the Regensburg lecture at the University of
Regensburg in Germany, where he had once served as a professor of theology. It was entitled “Faith, Reason and the University
— Memories and Reflections”. In his lecture, the Pope, speaking in German,
quoted a passage about Islam made at the end of the 14th century by Byzantine (Eastern
Roman) emperor Manuel II Palaiologos. As the English translation of the Pope’s lecture
was disseminated across the world, the quotation was taken out of context and many Islamic
politicians and religious leaders protested against what they saw as an insulting mischaracterization
of Islam. Mass street protests were mounted in many
Islamic countries. The Pope maintained that the comment he had
quoted did not reflect his own views. Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala
Lumpur v. Menteri Dalam Negeri is a 2009 court decision by the High Court of Malaya holding
that Christians do not have the constitutional right to use the word “Allah” in church newspapers.===Buddhism===In 1994, Pope John Paul II wrote Crossing
the Threshold of Hope, in which he discussed various non-Christian religions, including
Buddhism. The book prompted widespread criticism from
the Buddhist community, and the pope’s statements were characterized as misunderstanding and
offending Buddhism. Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist
lama, wrote a book to address the “serious, gratuitous misrepresentations of Buddhist
doctrine which seemed to be based on misunderstandings” contained within Crossing the Threshold of
Hope. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, a Theravada Buddhism scholar,
published an essay “intended as a short corrective to the Pope’s demeaning characterization of
Buddhism” entitled Toward a Threshold of Understanding.==Historical=====
Response to Heresy===The development of doctrine, the position
of orthodoxy, and the relationship between the early Church and early heretical groups
is a matter of academic debate. Before the 12th century, Christianity gradually
suppressed what it saw as heresy usually through a system of ecclesiastical sanctions, excommunication,
and anathema. Later, an accusation of heresy could be construed
as treason against lawful civil rule, and therefore punishable by civil sanctions, such
as confiscation of property, imprisonment, or death, though the latter was not frequently
imposed, as this form of punishment had many ecclesiastical opponents. Within five years of the official ‘criminalization’
of heresy by the emperor, the first Christian heretic, Priscillian, was executed in 385
by Roman officials. For some years after the Protestant Reformation,
Protestant denominations were also known to execute those whom they considered heretics. When John Paul II visited Prague in 1990s,
he apologized for the execution of Jan Hus on charges of heresy and requested experts
in this matter “to define with greater clarity the position held by Jan Hus among the Church’s
reformers, and acknowledged that “independently of the theological convictions he defended,
Hus cannot be denied integrity in his personal life and commitment to the nation’s moral
education.”In 2015, after visiting a Waldensian Temple in Turin, Pope Francis, in the name
of the Catholic Church, asked Waldensian Christians for forgiveness for their persecution. The Pope apologized for the Church’s “un-Christian
and even inhumane positions and actions”.===Crusades===The Crusades were a series of military conflicts
with a religious, as well as socio-political character waged by much of Christian Europe
against external and internal threats. Crusades were fought against Muslims, Slavs,
Orthodox Christians, Mongols, Cathars, Hussites and political enemies of the popes. Crusaders took vows and were granted an indulgence.Elements
of the Crusades were criticized by some from the time of their inception in 1095. Roger Bacon felt the Crusades were counter-productive
because, “those who survive, together with their children, are more and more embittered
against the Christian faith.” In spite of some criticism, the movement was
still widely supported in Europe long after the fall of Acre in 1291. After that, the Crusades to recover Jerusalem
and the Christian East were unsuccessful. 18th century rationalists judged the Crusaders
harshly. In the 1950s, Sir Steven Runciman published
a highly critical account of the Crusades which referred to Holy War as “a sin against
the Holy Ghost”.===Magdalene laundries===Magdalene laundries, also known as Magdalene’s
asylums, were Protestant but later in Ireland largely Roman Catholic institutions that operated
from the 18th to the late 20th centuries, to house “fallen women”. The term implied female sexual promiscuity
or work in prostitution; young women who became pregnant outside of marriage, or whose male
family members complained about their behavior were committed here. They were required to work as part of their
board, and the institutions operated large commercial laundries, serving customers outside
their church bases. Many of these “laundries” were effectively
operated as penitentiary work-houses. Laundries such as this operated throughout
Europe and North America for much of the nineteenth and well into the twentieth century, the last
one closing in 1996. The institutions were named after the Biblical
figure Mary Magdalene, in earlier centuries characterised as a reformed prostitute.===Nationalist critique===
As early as the second century, Justin Martyr addressed his The First Apology to the Roman
Emperor Antoninus Pius to explain that Christians could be good citizens. In addition to arguing against the persecution
of individuals solely for being Christian, Justin also provides the Emperor with a defense
of the philosophy of Christianity and a detailed explanation of contemporary Christian practices
and rituals. In many instances concern regarding the loyalty
of Catholics arose in the context of perceived political threats. In 1570, Pope Pius V issued a papal bull titled
Regnans in Excelsis, which declared Elizabeth I to be excommunicated and a heretic. Concerned at the possibility that, in the
event of an attack by the Catholic monarchs of France and Spain, English Catholics might
side with the invaders, Parliament enacted restrictive legislation against Catholics. The initial favorable reception of Jesuits
in Japan changed when Toyotomi Hideyoshi became disturbed by the external threats posed by
the expansion of European power in East Asia. Hideyoshi was apprehensive that Portugal and
Spain might provide military support to Dom Justo Takayama, a Christian daimyō in western
Japan. The San Felipe incident (1596) involved the
Spanish captain of a shipwrecked trading vessel, who, in an attempt to recover his cargo, made
the claim that the missionaries (many of whom had arrived with the Portuguese) were there
to prepare Japan for conquest. He was concerned that divided loyalties might
lead to dangerous rebels like the Ikkō-ikki Sect of earlier years and issued an edict
expelling missionaries.The Reichskonkordat of 1933 was an agreememt between the Holy
See and Germany, negotiated by Cardinal Secretary of State Eugenio Pacelli and Vice Chancellor
Franz von Papen on behalf of President Paul von Hindenburg. While the treaty preserved the Church’s ecclesiastical
and educational institutions, and guaranteed the right to pastoral care in hospitals, prisons
and similar institutions it also required all clergy to abstain from membership in political
parties, and not support political causes. Hitler routinely disregarded the concordat
and permitted a persecution of the Catholic Church in Germany. Shortly before the 20 July signing of the
Reichskonkordat, Germany signed similar agreements with the state Protestant churches in Germany,
although the Confessing Church opposed the regime. Nazi breaches of the agreement began almost
as soon as it had been signed and intensified afterwards leading to protest from the Church
including in the 1937 encyclical Mit brennender Sorge encyclical of Pope Pius XI, followed
in 1943 by Mystici corporis Christi, condemning forced conversions, the murder of disabled
people, and the exclusion of people on the basis of race or nationality. The Nazis planned to eliminate the Church’s
influence by restricting its organizations to purely religious activities.In a series
of sermons in the summer of 1941, Clemens August Graf von Galen, Bishop of Munster denounced
the Nazi regime for its Gestapo tactics and policies, including euthanasia, and attacked
the Third Reich for undermining justice. He stated: “As a German, as a decent citizen,
I demand Justice”. In the view of SS General Jürgen Stroop,
German patriotism “was tainted by Papist ideals, which have been harmful to Germany for centuries. Besides, the Archbishop’s [Clemens August
Graf von Galen] orders came from outside the Fatherland, a fact which disturbed us. We all know that despite its diverse factions,
the Catholic Church is a world community, which sticks together when the chips are down.” “There is no doubt that in the long run Nazi
leaders such as Hitler and Himmler intended to eradicate Christianity just as ruthlessly
as any other rival ideology, even if in the short term they had to be content to make
compromises with it.”Catholic clergy have also been implicated in the violent repression
of the Ustaše regime in Croatia during the Second World War.===Finances===
Concerns about usury included the 19th century Rothschild loans to the Holy See and 16th
century objections over abuse of the zinskauf clause. This was particularly problematic because
the charging of interest (all interest, not just excessive interest) was a violation of
doctrine at the time, such as that reflected in the 1745 encyclical Vix pervenit. As a result, work-arounds were employed. For example, in the 15th century, the Medici
Bank lent money to the Vatican, which was lax about repayment. Rather than charging interest, “the Medici
overcharged the pope on the silks and brocades, the jewels and other commodities they supplied.” However, the 1917 Code of Canon Law switched
position and allowed church monies to be used to accrue interest.Italian priest Pino Puglisi
refused money from Mafia members when offered it for the traditional feast day celebrations,
and also resisted the Mafia in other ways, for which he was martyred in 1993. In 2014, Pope Francis criticized the practice
of charging altarage fees or honorariums for things like baptisms, blessings, and Mass
intentions (such as Masses for the dead).In 2015, the Bishop of Oslo was charged with
fraud for inflating membership rolls for the Catholic Church in Norway and the diocese
had to repay some of its subsidy.In 2018, Pope Francis criticized the selling of masses
for the dead, stating, “the Mass is not paid for, redemption is free, if I want to make
an offering, well and good, but Mass is free.” In response, Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim
and two bishops put out a press release reminding Catholics that according to canon law, “any
priest celebrating or concelebrating is permitted to receive an offering to apply the Mass for
a specific intention.”===
Sexual abuse scandals===In January 2002, allegations of priests sexually
abusing children were widely reported in the news media. A survey of the 10 largest U.S. dioceses found
234 priests from a total 25,616 in those dioceses, have had allegations of sexual abuse made
against them in the last 50 years. The report does not state how many of these
have been proven in court. Victims of such abuse filed lawsuits against
a number of dioceses, resulting in multi-million dollar settlements in some cases. In response, in June 2002, the United States
Conference of Catholic Bishops initiated strict new guidelines (“zero tolerance”) for the
protection of children and youth in Catholic institutions across the country. In February 2019, the Catholic Church held
a worldwide summit of bishops in Rome to discuss the steps that can be taken to prevent the
sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults.==See also==
Anti-Catholicism Anti-clericalism
Clergy removed from office Nazi views on Catholicism
WELS -holds the pope to be the anti-Christ

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