Whose Skulls Will Pave the Road to Hell? is the working title I had for my most recent piece now up at First Things. My point was that someone has to foul up running the Church, whether we’re Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, or whatever, and so someone’s skulls will pave the path to hell (playing on a phrase attributed to St. John Chrysostom). We went with a word I’ve coined, I think, cumbersome as it is: “Ecclesiadicy.” As “theodicy” is an attempt to justify God in the face of suffering, “ecclesiadicy” is an attempt to justify the Church in the face of its grave failings. Excerpts:
The ultimate issue for those who take seriously the question of which Christian communion they should belong to, I think, is not which ecclesial structure evinces the most holiness yesterday and today. Rather, the proper question is this: What structure has God willed?
An assist from Frank Sheed:
We are not baptized into the hierarchy; do not receive the Cardinals sacramentally; will not spend an eternity in the beatific vision of the pope. Christ is the point. I, myself, admire the present pope (John Paul II), but even if I criticized him as harshly as some do, even if his successor proved to be as bad as some of those who have gone before, even if I find the church, as I have to live with it, a pain in the neck, I should still say that nothing a pope (or a priest) could do or say would make me wish to leave the church, although I might well wish that they would leave.
Put another way, if one can believe in God after Auschwitz, one could also believe in the Church after whatever scandal. It’s not so simple, of course, for those who have experienced real trauma at the hands of hierarchs or others who are rightly enraged thereby. There we have an existential issue, and may God grant them peace.
Read it all, if for no other reason than I tell the story of Bishop Hatto, devoured by raging mice bent on vengeance.