Nineteenth-century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, who many claim is the father of existentialism, was well-known for his criticism of organized religion. He was known for attacking the most powerful church in Germany. The ironic part was … he was Christian.
I bring up Kierkegaard because he shows the possibility of criticizing an organized religion while still having a personal relationship with a deity. Kierkegaard seems like the perfect antidote to devout Catholics who were stunned by the recent retirement of Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger). I assume that many who held the papacy to be infallible are now starting to ask questions.
While many speculate why the pope resigned, whether or not it had been due to his involvement in multiple scandals, I ask if it’s possible to be a Catholic and still disagree with the church. For some reason, it has been commonly accepted by many Catholics that the Vatican can do no wrong, even when there has been a multitude of abuses covered up by the Vatican.
I’m not religious at all. In fact I hold the same disdain that Kierkegaard had for organized religion. I believe that a relationship with a deity should be intensely personal. So as a disclaimer, this is an outsider’s opinion. But if I were a Catholic, I would be furious in the direction the church is going. I do believe that one could be Catholic and still disagree with the church.
In fact, it’s crucial now more than ever that Catholics come out and demand much needed reform in the Vatican. It’s also necessary to have Catholics speak out against the rampant cover ups of sexual abuse against minors by priests in the church. It’s needed because the Catholic church, and all its medieval ideology, is starting to die out. For there to be a reform in one of the world’s most corrupt institutions, more progressive Catholics need to speak out.
Hans Kung is one of the few. Kung, an honorary Swedish priest and a Catholic theologian, has spoken up against the Vatican multiple times. Kung is most known for his outspoken criticism against papal infallibility, which is the belief that the Pope can do no wrong. Anyone who has any knowledge of Ratzinger knows that this isn’t the case.
In Kung’s New York Times op-ed “A Vatican Spring?,” he calls on the new pope to lead a revolutionary reform. That means a pope who stands up to the sexual abuse, doesn’t preach intolerance, doesn’t attack a woman’s right to choose, and is pro-contraception.
“In this dramatic situation the church needs a pope who’s not living intellectually in the Middle Ages, who doesn’t champion any kind of medieval theology, liturgy or church constitution,” Kung writes.
The Rolling Stone article “The Sisters Crusades,” written by Mark Benelli, highlights a growing movement of American nuns who are raging against the pope. Sisters like Simone Campbell and Margaret Farley have protested social spending cuts, are in favor for remarriage after divorce, and promote a stance on sexual liberation. Sister Donna Quinn, a nun from Chicago with a feminist stance, personally escorted women to abortion clinics in promotion of reproductive rights.
Why do I bring these people up? It’s because I want to show Catholics that are against the crimes and viewpoints of the Vatican that it’s okay to speak up. I believe that there are many Catholics who feel this way but they remain silent out of fear for being marginalized. I want to let people know that it’s okay to speak up, religious or not, because the abuses of the Vatican is one of the most unrecognized human rights issue.
Write a letter to your priest or parish. Tell them how you feel and that it’s not okay what the Vatican is doing. Encourage them to stand up for what’s right. It’s not okay to tell people how to conduct their sexual lives. It’s not okay to preach intolerance against other religions. And it’s beyond outrageous that so many child predators can be apart of one organization and no one gets held accountable. Tell one of the most powerful Christian organizations … to be more Christ like.
Brian Rabadeau can be contacted at