Nicholas Kristof of the NYT has written the obvious piece waiting to be written about the 'two' Catholic churches--the controlling and out of touch hierarchy and the saintly priests and nuns and brothers who work tirelessly alongside the people. I do think often about Jesus as a model for being church, and what he'd have done in terms of the finery and pomp and expensive buildings (either of classical or contemporary style). So much of Christianity as a religion seems at an uncomfortable angle from its Lord. Here's Kristof:
Maybe the Catholic Church should be turned upside down.
Jesus wasn’t known for pontificating from palaces, covering up scandals, or issuing Paleolithic edicts on social issues. Does anyone think he would have protected clergymen who raped children? Yet if the top of the church has strayed from its roots, much of its base is still deeply inspiring. I came here to impoverished southern Sudan to write about Sudanese problems, not the Catholic Church’s.
Yet once again, I am awed that so many of the selfless people serving the world’s neediest are lowly nuns and priests — notable not for the grandeur of their vestments but for the grandness of their compassion.
As I’ve noted before, there seem to be two Catholic Churches, the old boys’ club of the Vatican and the grass-roots network of humble priests, nuns and laity in places like Sudan. The Vatican certainly supports many charitable efforts, and some bishops and cardinals are exemplary, but overwhelmingly it’s at the grass roots that I find the great soul of the Catholic Church.
Anon and +peace,