The Pope in today's world

As to virtue leading us to a happy life, I hold virtue to be nothing else than perfect love of God. 

-Saint Augustine 

Friend: Are you Catholic? 
Me: My mother was a Catholic, so I was raised one
Friend: So were you sodomized when you were 12?

The Catholic church has gone through the scandal. Accusations of priests molesting (mostly) young boys began in a drip-like fashion in the late 1980s. Decades later there doesn’t seem to have any end in sight. In fact, as transparency slowly increases, the crimes against young people appear even more horrific. 

We may never know the tally, which could include thousands of priests and tens of thousands of victims. 

One of the many questions we ask isn’t whether the church will survive the scandals. That’s most likely true. The Catholic church, while it has most likely paid out millions in claims across every continent, seems to have intact its solid foundation. But will it ever be able to separate itself from these scandals? Moral authority has seen its star fade over the centuries. but people look still look for institutions and individuals guidance. 

What is true is the church could die a more insidious death. It may survive, but its essence will be hallowed. It survived for so long because the stories it told about the life of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and the Apostles rang true. Will parishioners learn to separate the stories from the rot?

These topics come up as the Pope is in UAE for the week, in a goodwill gesture on all sides. People outside the church may look to Pope as a spokesperson for millions. But do the people in Christian countries — the countries who survived the scandal — feel the same? 

What we must ask is what is the Pope’s role in today’s bruised Catholic church. It is an organization with one of the deepest infrastructures in the world. But the abuse happened in the bottom rungs of the machine. Regardless of what archbishops and cardinals did or did not do, people will remember being failed by their local church. That trust may be hard to replace. People may revere the Pope today but it’s the church and its failings they’ll remember.