Damon Linker has a deeply moving piece at The Week on Why I Left the Catholic Church. His reason?
“My reason was that the latest revelations in the church’s interminable sex abuse scandal had revealed ‘a repulsive institution — or at least one permeated by repulsive human beings who reward one another for repulsive acts, all the while deigning to lecture the world about its sin.’”
He predicts that many will make the same move in the coming months and years.
It appears to be the church’s ecclesiology which Linker takes most issue with. As he puts it:
“The Catholic Church does make extraordinarily high claims for itself — not that its priests and bishops and cardinals and popes are angels but that the church as an institution is, of all the churches that follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, the one most fully and rightly ordered through time.”
This, he says, is patently an absurd claim in the light of both ancient history and recent events.
“If you believe that Jesus Christ was resurrected, that he is the Son of God and the second person of the trinitarian Godhead, that his teaching tells us how the creator of the universe wants us to live, then by all means be a Christian. But to believe that this particular church, of all the Christian churches in the world, is the one most fully and rightly ordered through time, over and above all of the others? You can’t possibly be serious.
To react with anger and incredulity to this suggestion isn’t to display unrealistically high hopes or expectations about the church. It’s to respond reasonably to a claim that the church makes about itself — a claim that is flatly implausible on its face.
And that, my former fellow Catholic communicants, is why I have left the church — and why I fully expect quite a lot of the rest of you to be joining me in my unregretted exodus very soon.”
His problem is not primarily the priests’ crimes of child abuse but the church’s response of covering it up and even promoting those who did the abusing and covering up. He highlights the bafflement of Catholics everywhere as to how and why church leaders could have done this, but explains it in the money quote of the piece:
“The behavior is only mysterious if you assume that anyone in their place would respond the way you and I would: with revulsion. But it isn’t mysterious at all if you assume what should be obvious by now to everyone: They just didn’t think it was such a big deal.“
That’s the big deal in this article. That’s the crux of the matter. They just didn’t think it was such a big deal. That’s where the Protestant church must stand out as different. Otherwise, Protestants will start leaving their churches in droves too.