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Conscience Magazine

New Wineskins

By Conscience September 14, 2019

Thomas Doyle provides some valuable insights about the Catholic hierarchy in the context of the sex abuse “crisis” in his article “The Sexual Abuse Crisis Is Not a Crisis.”

As an advocate for survivors who’s worked within the structure of the hierarchy for at least two decades, I see how this structure staffed by male clerics claims to act “in the name of God” and makes these people believe they do no wrong. Their “God power” is toxic and deprives victims of sex abuse, women and LGBTI+ persons of human rights.

Predator priests remain in ministry until allegations are “conclusively substantiated,” not only by civil but also canonical courts, which, in my experience, can take ages, as files tend to get lost in the Vatican. The People of God are kept blissfully ignorant when a sex predator lurks among them. The leadership does not seem to care that vulnerable and innocent lives are destroyed because, as Doyle reveals, it “is best for the image, the reputation, the power and the financial security of the clerical elite,” justified as being “for the good of the church.”

Doyle suggests that “fundamental structural and attitudinal changes are essential, or clergy abuse will keep recurring.” Yes! The structure and devolution of power maintained through teachings, myths and laws must radically change.

Reflecting on the priesthood in 2015, women theologians in India stated: “New visions and liberative insights cannot be contained in old structures. We dream of birthing a new vision of being Church with structures that are collaborative, participatory and inclusive without distinctions of class, caste and gender. This will help the Christian community to become the ‘new wineskin’ that can hold the ‘new wine’ of the Reign of God” inaugurated by Jesus. The current form of priesthood was never instituted by Jesus!

Virginia Saldanha
Secretary, Indian Women Theologians’ Forum
Former Exec. Secretary of the Office of Laity in the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference


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