Monday, May 14, 2012

Respectibility in Religion?

Hilary Mantel with her award winning book
Hilary Mantel, the winner of Britain’s prestigious Booker prize for literature, has given an interview with the Telegraph, which reveals her animus against the Catholic church.

Mantel seems scarred from her convent education, which left her with the impression as a 12 year old that priests and nuns were amongst the worst people that she knew, due to their cruelty. This weltanschauung was confirmed as an adult as the pedophilia scandals broke. Mantel lamented: "The fact that it [pedophilia] could happen, the extent of the denial, the cover-up, the hypocrisy, the cruelty.

When the Telegraph pressed as to whether she would call for a priest on her deathbed, Mantel mused: "No. I might very well call for a Church of England vicar, but I would not call for a Catholic priest...I think that nowadays the Catholic Church is not an institution for respectable people." 

Although the abuse and betrayals of trust in pedophilia are deplorable and tragic, they were isolated and not institutionalized. Moreover, Catholic dioceses have paid a significant price for their failings and now have acute awareness for inappropriate activities.  Both Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have acknowledged the abuse and asked for forgiveness.

But Mantel’s comeuppance quote that the Catholic Church was not an institution for "respectable people" was quite striking. It calls to mind a quote from Oscar Wilde,who penned: "The Catholic Church is for saints and sinners alone. For respectable people, the Anglican Church will do." Wilde embraced this paradox on his deathbed when he converted from the Church of Ireland (Eire Anglicanism) to the Roman Catholic Church.

Respectability seems like a shallow raison d’etre for religiosity. What underlies your faith?

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