The faith crisis in the Catholic Church

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BY KEN OUKO

Something is going down with Catholicism. Conspiracy theorists may be tempted to proclaim a grand universal onslaught on the Catholic Church but an objective observer will classify what is happening to the Catholicism as a rot.

We all know that what rots stinks not until the rot turns to decay and affected tissue degenerates. By corollary insinuation thus one may state – at the risk of wrath – that Catholicism as a doctrine has been decaying and we are only just beginning to sniff the pungency of rot.

How else do we escape the reality that in the immediate past, scandals and rebellion are creeping out of the oak paneled woodwork that is Catholicism like fat jigger does toe-wise? Regardless, present concern must be focused on the common adherents of the catholic faith.

Psychologists have ascertained that we individually pursue religious faith for the singular purpose of self-equilibrium derived from the ability of religion to boost understanding of the self. Sociologists on the other hand assert that we collectively invest our faith in religion as a means of communal, national and universal pacification.

Either way, when our individual or collective faith is rocked by curious incredulity, the natural thing to do is to step back and re-contemplate the key doctrines and principles that guide and govern our faith.

Chastity, Celibacy and Catholicism

Nearly every scandal that rocks the Catholic Church has been of the sexual category. So perhaps it is time to re-examine the twin doctrines of chastity and celibacy and how they negatively impact on the behavioural stability of Catholic spiritual icons.

Age-old questions have always been posed not just about the effectiveness of celibacy but about its practicality as well. Celibacy was originally meant to reinforce the principle that to serve the Lord God, one must be willing to forego the ‘earthly pleasures’ that come with the sexual activeness of marriage and family life.

Of course the contradictions have always been obvious for all to see with some strident opponents of celibacy claiming that it actually breeds the reverse of its intended effect; allows the sexuality of the priests to roam all over their nerve-miles without harness as is provided for in consummative release that is morally validated by marriage.

That, instead of the nuptial exclusivity that marriage cultivates, celibacy conversely bottles up the sexual instincts natural to the human being and inhibits the sex-drive that should otherwise be legitimised by biological factuality.

Whichever side of the bipolar perspective one takes, bottom-line to this whole Catholic rupture is the fact that the faithful are increasingly suffering an acute identity crisis that the Catholic leadership had better address with speed.

Adherence to a specific religious orientation is a matter of conscious choice. The sanctity of religious belief flourishes on the strength of faith. If the intercessors themselves pollute this faith, their followers will sequentially regress into the doldrums of disbelief and disgruntlement that may not immediately affect numbers but will surely carry negative influence on how the ordinary adherent to Catholicism practices religion.                

(Ken Ouko is a sociology lecturer at the University of Nairobi)

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