By Michael H. Brown
Scandals In Church Joining Other ‘Signs Of The Times’ As Purification Intensifies
In Rome, rumors are flying about the capability of John Paul II, who some cardinals reportedly have urged to resign. In the U.S., there is the crisis of Church scandal, and even talk of a grand jury.
It’s easy to see how the current weaknesses in the Church could spiral into unforeseen circumstances. It’s a dangerous time, and there is now the wind of persecution. We hear many rumors. We hear rumors that there will be allegations against a number of American bishops. We don’t want to get into numbers, because we don’t know what to believe. We issue this warning: while there are obviously grave problems that were neglected and in some instances even covered up by the Church, and while this must be vigorously purified, those pursuing such cases should be on the alert for what psychologists call “false memory syndrome” That’s when a person “remembers” things that aren’t really true. In checking a famous case over the weekend, we believe we ran into this.
Satan loves to implant damaging false memories, and it has been seen with other allegations. In the state of Washington hysteria erupted in the mid-1990s as young people began to accuse virtually every prominent person in a town of being part of a cult-like ring of molestation — causing a series of arrests that were later overturned. The same happened in Texas, and now we see that a woman who accused Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony of “abuse” has not only a vague memory but also a history of mental illness. (She claimed she was knocked unconscious while a high school student and when she came to saw Mahony standing over her. This made all the news — huge headlines — but when further questioned the woman said, “I can’t remember what happened after that”; she was quoted by a major network as saying that Cardinal Mahony never touched her.)
Still, many of the scandals are real and they bring to mind the great purification of the Middle Ages. That was an age in which society had devolved in much the same way that society today has devolved and it was an era in which this worldliness invaded the Church. Just before the Black Death hit, the Church was in moral disarray. It was so bad that St. Bridget of Sweden publicly attacked it as “full of pride, avarice, self-indulgence, and corruption.” For a stipend, priests were allowed by their bishops to have mistresses.
This corruption accompanied signs in nature that were eerily similar to what is seen today. As in our own time the signs included earthquakes, swerves in the seasons, El Ninos, massive storms, tidal surges, signs in the sky, and melting glaciers. Back then, average global surface temperature had increased to the exact same extent that we have seen during the past 100 years — over a degree Fahrenheit — and then, after a long period of the warming, temperatures took a sudden reverse into cooler climate with severe effects.
As is the case any time the climate gyrates — as in our own time — there were droughts, floods, and storms. One of the warmest periods had crashed and taken sodden crops with it. The result was famine, accompanied by unusual meteor activity.
Whether from heightened El Nino activity, tidal waves that may have resulted from meteors, or some mysterious shift, Indians in South America seemed to be avoiding the coasts and islanders were moving all over the Pacific. A pall had descended on the plant.
We’re not yet at that point. Back in the Middle Ages, the papacy was preoccupied with mountains of money (it even taxed the average European) and had moved from Rome to France. In our own time, the papacy is the focus of greatness.
But our society — the secular world — is as corrupt as during medieval times (possibly more so), and this is dangerous when we look back and see how all those quakes and storms and especially the climate shifts served as preludes to the Black Death, a plague that killed a third of those in Europe ( doing special harm to convents, monasteries, and rectories; in England there were 17,500 monks, nuns, and friars before the plague but within two years about half that number).
It wasn’t the end of the world; no. It wasn’t the end. But it was a purification, and there’s no use ignoring such events. It’s only through this acknowledgement — and through prayer, especially prayer for conversion — that we will avoid a repetition.
No, we’re not quite at that point. But we’re coming close, and scandal is an indication. It’s a sign of the time as we enter a century that thus far holds the promise of huge natural events, a great war, and now too the specter of persecution.