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Around 11 a. Sakhare reviewed the preparedness of the team and the progress of investigation into the case early on Wednesday. The police decided to hold the interrogation at Tripunithura as it has a hi-tech interrogation room. Considering the sensitive nature of the case, alternative arrangements have also been made at Vaikom, Ettumanoor and Kottayam for continuing the interrogation just in case some untoward development hampers the ongoing questioning at Tripunithura. Meanwhile, at the other end of Kochi, at Vanchi Square in the High Court junction, a sit-in by five nuns of the Missionaries of Jesus demanding the immediate arrest of bishop Franco entered its 12th day.

While the bishop has claimed innocence, and sought anticipatory bail from the Kerala High Court on Tuesday, the hearing on the plea was adjourned to September Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun, leaves after questioning before the special investigation team of the Kerala police, in Thripunithura, Wednesday. Pope Francis has accepted the request of Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal that he be temporarily relieved of pastoral duties. The development was welcomed by protesters at the day-old agitation and relay hunger strike in Kochi. The decision would strengthen their protest.

Photo Credit: H. The interrogation of bishop Franco Mulakkal, who has been accused by a Kerala nun of raping her, got under way for the third day at the hi-tech interrogation cell in the Crime Branch CB office at Tripunithura in Kochi on Friday. The bishop arrived in a police convoy of three police vehicles from hotel Crowne Plaza at Kundannoor where he had been put up over the last couple of days, at a.

Kottayam Superintendent of Police Hari Sanker, who is leading the interrogation team, told journalists on Thursday night that the interrogation would be wrapped up on Friday. The bishop has been interrogated for over 15 hours in the last two days. Three police teams were sent out to undisclosed places on Thursday night for what Mr. Whether that verification has been completed is not immediately known, though Mr.

A Baffling Murder Case. An Unimaginable Tragedy.

Sanker had said that it would be wrapped up overnight and the findings available by the time interrogation gets under way on Friday. The police may have to take a decision on whether or not to arrest the bishop, who was relieved of his responsibilities as the head of the Jalandhar diocese by the Vatican on Thursday. A plea of anticipatory bail moved by the bishop is set to come up for hearing before the High Court next week and that is also likely to be a factor to be considered by the police before taking any decision on his arrest.

Nuns who were on a sit in at Kochi demanding the bishop's arrest called off their stir following firm indications that the police investigation team would arrest him later in the evening. The bishop is accused of raping a nun multiple times at a convent at Kuravilangad in Kottayam district between and The Special Investigation Team probing the rape of a nun belonging to the Missionaries of Jesus congregation had to face heavy public onslaught, even as they refused to be rushed in their pursuit of clinching evidence before arresting Bishop Franco Mulakkal late Friday night.

The investigation team was under duress with an ongoing sit-in by five nuns of the congregation demanding the arrest of the bishop when it began interrogating for the second time on Wednesday. Rumour was rife from day one about his imminent arrest but the team took its time to verify the veracity of statements made by the bishop over three days at the Crime Branch office at Thripunithura. The investigation team led by K. SP, Vaikom, had first interrogated the bishop for over nine hours in Jalandhar on August The second round of investigation started here on Wednesday when he was subjected to over seven hours of rigorous questioning followed by over eight-and-a-half hours of further grilling on Thursday.

The decision to arrest him came after eight more hours of interrogation on Friday. While the arrest was widely speculated on Thursday, the bishop was yet again allowed to leave at the end of the interrogation as Mr. Sanker said the interrogation was inconclusive and that a decision regarding arrest could not be made.

New allegations of sexual abuse against priest

Meanwhile, Pope Francis allowed bishop Franco to step down as head of the Jalandhar diocese, after it became clear that he would be spending a substantial amount of time in Kerala fighting the case. The case against the bishop was registered by the Kuravilangad police on June 28, a day after the nun met the police chief with a complaint that the bishop had raped her multiple times at the Kuravilangad convent. This was five days after the Kuravilangad police registered a case against the brother of the nun on a petition filed on behalf of the bishop by the PRO of the Jalandhar diocese.

Kottayam SP handed over both cases to Vaikom Dy. SP on June 29 following which the investigation gathered momentum. Bishop Franco Mulakkal being brought for interrogation to the office of Superintendent of Police in Thripunithura on Friday. After three days of interrogation that exceeded over 23 hours, the Special Investigation Team probing the alleged rape of a nun belonging to the Missionaries of Jesus congregation on Friday arrested Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal accused of the crime.

The bishop was taken in a police vehicle to the Thripunithura taluk hospital for medical examination. The bishop has been charged under four counts including rape, illegal confinement and criminal intimidation. The contention of the accused that the allegation against him was the outcome of a conspiracy had collapsed in the face of the evidence collected by the police and the information gathered after questioning. He was given reasonable time to have his say and arrested after the contradictions in the evidence given by the nun, the bishop and others were ironed out, the SP said.

Social activists, a majority of them women, jurists, lawyers, writers and artists had come out in support of their agitation. The nuns called off their agitation late on Friday following his arrest. The bishop has since been admitted to the Kottayam Government Medical College Hospital on account of high blood pressure. The perceived delay in initiating action against bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun, had indeed made the police an object of curiosity or, worse, scorn.

Unfazed by criticism from all around, the Special Investigation Team SIT had moved meticulously, collecting evidence and ironing out inconsistencies before making the final move. Indeed, so strong was the evidence collected, especially in the second phase of investigation, that it enabled the investigators to wear the bishop down on the second day of interrogation and counter his contention that he was being framed. The complaint against the bishop was lodged on June 27 when the victim, a nun attached to the St.

Francis Mission Home, near Kuravilangad, under the Missionaries of Jesus, filed a complaint accusing the bishop of sexually abusing her on 14 occasions between and During the interrogation, the bishop initially maintained that the victim was avenging the disciplinary action he had initiated against her in May Armed with evidence of her revealing the ordeal as early as September through confession at a prayer meeting held at Attappady in Palakkad, the investigators challenged his contention.

That the victim had, besides confessing about the incident, apprised some in the Church hierarchy about the sexual harassment she was subjected to was also brought to bear on the case. Based on the finding, the room where the abuse had allegedly taken place was subjected to scientific examination. The investigators could obtain letters sent by the accused to the Mother General of the institution seeking disciplinary action against the nun and another letter reminding her about the action that he wanted taken. At a point, the bishop had also denied knowing the victim, which the police could easily challenge by showing an old photograph of the accused seen together with the victim at a function.

While the evidence helped the sleuths to clarify details and reach conclusions, the decision to arrest was taken only after multi-level discussions spread over the three-day-long interrogation. The team had also sought legal opinion before taking him into custody. Though the team has not confirmed it officially, it is learnt that they are in receipt of more complaints of sexual harassment against the bishop. The nuns who ended their protest in Kochi on Saturday being greeted by supporters. The day street protest near the High Court, seeking justice to the nun allegedly subjected to sexual abuse by Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, drew to a close here on Saturday with a rousing reception to the five nuns who were part of the public agitation.

With the organisers deciding to call off the protest in the wake of the police arresting the accused, a jovial atmosphere prevailed at the sit-in venue here on Saturday morning. He said the sit-in marked only the first phase of a continuing movement to reform the Church. A meeting of organisations that took part in the protest would be convened in Kochi on Sunday.

Sister Anupama, a protester, thanked everyone who rallied behind them. She called for continuing support by the public as their future with the Church was uncertain. A street-play staged by students of UC College, Aluva, marked the formal end of the event. Photo Credit: PTI. Also Read Bishop Mulakkal remanded to day judicial custody.

The bail petition said that he was arrested while his anticipatory bail petition was pending before the High Court. Therefore, his arrest was improper. The petition also pointed out that he was interrogated for eight hours. During the interrogation he had disclosed everything he knew and handed over the material in his possession to the police. Therefore, there was no need for keeping him in the custody of police. He also alleged that the police were trying to create false scientific evidence.

The clothes worn by him while in police custody had been seized for creating false evidence, he claimed. Bishop Franco Mulakkal, former head of the Catholic diocese of Jalandhar, under arrest in connection with the rape of a nun, has been sent to the sub jail by the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court at Pala. He will be under judicial custody till October 6. The accused, whose police custody ended by 2.

His counsel prayed for bail pointing out that police had completed the investigation with which he had cooperated. The bishop accused the police of collecting his body secretions without consent. The police sought his judicial custody since there was a precedence of the accused intimidating the survivor and her supporters. The police did not seek further custody of the accused. The accused was taken to the Pala sub jail by 2 p.

He is housed in cell No. He was examined by a team of doctors on Monday before being taken to the court. The special investigation team SIT led by K. Subhas, Dy. SP, Vaikom, is expected to now concentrate on three other related cases. In one case, the survivor and her supporters had accused the bishop and his supporters of trying to mortally attack her. In another, the police had charged a case against those who had allegedly intervened on behalf of the bishop to settle the case by offering land and exclusive convent to the protesting nuns.

In a third instance, the police have commenced proceedings against Sister Amala, the public relations officer for the Missionaries of Jesus, for releasing a photo of the survivor. On a day the police spread out their net further in the case pertaining to the rape of a nun by Bishop Franco Mulakkal, former bishop of the Catholic diocese of Jalandhar, the bishop who is presently incarcerated at the Pala sub jail had high profile visitors at the jail.

According to Fr. Jose Kakkallil, chancellor of the Catholic diocese of Pala, Rev. Jacob Muricken, auxiliary bishop of Pala, paid a visit to Franco Mulakkal in the jail. Bishop Muricken was accompanied by Fr. Mathew Chandrankunnel. Bishop Muricken, who arrived at the jail by noon, completed all formalities before speaking to Franco Mulakkal.

Kakkallil said. Meanwhile, insiders maintained that the visit by Bishop Muricken was a clear message to all stakeholders. It is not only a message to those who are on the war path as to where the Church stood in the case, but also a message to the accused that he has not been abandoned by the Church. It was also a pointer to the public at large. Amala, public relations officer of the Missionaries of Jesus, in the case pertaining to the publication of a photograph of the survivor.

The photo was mailed to mediapersons with the directive that the face of the nun should be edited if published. In another development, the survivor made a formal complaint to the Kottayam district police chief against Mr. George for the shaming comments he had made against her at a press conference. The complaint has been handed over to K.

The Missionaries of Jesus congregation of Jalandhar met Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here on Wednesday and complained against the police team probing the case of alleged rape of a nun by a Roman Catholic bishop. Bishop Mulakkal was arrested on September 21 amid mounting public outrage over allegations of repeatedly raping and sexually assaulting the nun. They said the probe team was threatening those who came out in support of the bishop. The nuns also alleged that the investigating team was intruding into the convents without notice. A magisterial court in Kerala had on September 24 remanded the Kerala priest in day judicial custody.

In remand report, the police had said the victim was subjected to rape 13 times by the accused between and The Kerala High Court on Wednesday turned down a bail plea of Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who has been arrested on the charge of raping a nun. He argued that the nun was inimical towards him since she was removed from the post of Mother Superior and Kerala in charge on a complaint from her cousin and another nun. His counsel also claimed further detention was not needed since he was interrogated for hours before and after his arrest.

She had alleged that she was raped by the bishop from May 5, to May 6, on 14 occasions in a room attached to the St. Opposing the bail plea, the Director General of Prosecution submitted that statements of the witnesses, including five nuns, would have to be recorded under Section of the CrPC. Besides, investigation had to be carried out in Jalandhar to ascertain the statement of the accused and collect some more evidence. In fact, four other cases were registered in various police stations for trying to influence the witnesses in the case at the instance of the accused bishop.

The investigation was at a crucial stage. Therefore, if he was granted bail at this stage, it would impede collection of further evidence, DGP had argued. A Kerala court on Saturday extended by 14 days till October 20 the judicial custody of Roman Catholic bishop Franco Mulakkal, arrested on the charge of repeatedly raping and sexually assaulting a nun.

Sources said his lawyers were planning to approach the Kerala High Court once again, seeking bail. The police had said the investigation in the case was progressing even after the arrest of the accused. In her complaint to the Kottayam police in June, the nun alleged that Mulakkal raped her at a guest house in Kuravilangad in May and subsequently, sexually exploited her on several occasions. The nun had said she had to approach the police as the church authorities did not act on her repeated complaints against the clergyman.

The Kerala High Court on Monday granted bail to bishop Franco Mulakkal, an accused in a case relating to alleged rape of a nun, on stringent conditions. The court's conditions are that he should appear before the investigating officers once every fortnight; not enter Kerala except for appearing before the officers; and surrender his passport before the subordinate court concerned. The bishop in his second bail petition said the High Court had dismissed his bail plea citing the reason that the statements of several witnesses would have to be recorded. In fact, the statements of the witnesses under Section of CrPC had been recorded now.

Therefore, the prosecution did not harbour any fear now that the witnesses would be threatened or influenced. Besides, he no longer held the charge of the Jalandhar diocese. As a result, he was not in a domineering position at this stage to influence the witnesses or tamper with the evidence as apprehended by the prosecution. Mulakkal has been in jail since his arrest on September 21, His counsel argued that the nun was inimical towards him since she was removed from the post of Mother Superior and Kerala in-charge on a complaint from her cousin and another nun.

His counsel also claimed that further detention was not needed since he had been interrogated for hours before and after his arrest. News States Kerala. In Depth. Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now Nun accuses bishop of rape. Special Correspondent. Read Original Article Read More. Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now Jalandhar diocese sex scandal: Demand to relieve bishop of pastoral duties.

Also Read. Related Topics Kerala. Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now Nun complained to me: Pala bishop. Image used for representational purpose. Related Topics social issue. Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now Judge recuses himself fromhearing case against priest.

Nuns in Kerala are taking on the influential Catholic Church for justice - The Economic Times

With ANI inputs. Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now Team to collect more proof against bishop. Interrogation Last month, the police team subjected the bishop to marathon interrogation at the Bishop House in Jalandhar and seized one of his mobile phones, a laptop and the hard disc of his computer. Staff Reporter. Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now HC calls for report on progress of probe. Despite the evidence, no steps had been taken to arrest the bishop, the counsel argued. The delay in the arrest had given an opportunity for the accused to intimidate the witnesses.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now Kerala nun writes to Vatican envoy against Jalandhar diocese bishop. Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now Kerala police asks Jalandhar bishop to appear before probe team. Singer Shahbaz Aman sang an old Christian devotional song. Fight to continue Sr. Lawrence questioned the police for inaction in the case.

Arrest not ruled out Speaking to The Hindu , district police chief Hari Sanker said the High Court decision to postpone the hearing, will not stop the police from arresting the bishop if they found enough evidence against him. Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now Bishop Franco Mulakkal interrogated by Kerala police in nun rape case. Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now Bishop Franco Mulakkal's interrogation in Kerala nun rape case enters third day. Police teams sent to undisclosed places Three police teams were sent out to undisclosed places on Thursday night for what Mr.

Issue of arrest The police may have to take a decision on whether or not to arrest the bishop, who was relieved of his responsibilities as the head of the Jalandhar diocese by the Vatican on Thursday. Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now Investigation team unfazed by pressure.

The Vatican’s Secret Life

In Jalandhar first The investigation team led by K. Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now Police arrest bishop Franco Mulakkal on rape charge. Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now God and public mediated for us, say nuns. Uncertain future He said the sit-in marked only the first phase of a continuing movement to reform the Church. His bail plea was earlier dismissed by a Magistrate Court in Pala. Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now Bishop in judicial custody till Oct 6.

He was arrested on September Mulakkal is currently lodged in a sub-jail in Pala. However, Mulakkal has denied the charges. Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now Bishop Franco Mulakkal gets conditional bail in nun rape case, told not to enter Kerala. Related Topics Specials Kerala christianity. This article is closed for comments. Please Email the Editor. Removed by celibacy from competing bonds of family and obligation, priests were slotted into a clerical hierarchy that replicated the medieval feudal order. When I became a priest, I placed my hands between the hands of the bishop ordaining me—a feudal gesture derived from the homage of a vassal to his lord.

In my case, the bishop was Terence Cooke, the archbishop of New York. Following this rubric of the sacrament, I gave my loyalty to him, not to a set of principles or ideals, or even to the Church. Or that they might find it hard to break from the feudal order that provides community and preferment, not to mention an elevated status the unordained will never enjoy? Or that Church law provides for the excommunication of any woman who attempts to say the Mass, but mandates no such penalty for a pedophile priest?

Clericalism is self-fulfilling and self-sustaining. It thrives on secrecy, and it looks after itself. Now, with children as victims and witnesses both, the corruption of priestly dominance has been shown for the evil that it is. Clericalism explains both how the sexual-abuse crisis could happen and how it could be covered up for so long.


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If the structure of clericalism is not dismantled, the Roman Catholic Church will not survive, and will not deserve to. I know this problem from the inside. Ironically, the Church, which sponsored my civil-rights work and prompted my engagement in the antiwar movement, made me a radical. I was the Catholic chaplain at Boston University, working with draft resisters and protesters, and soon enough I found myself in conflict with the conservative Catholic hierarchy. My priesthood. I heard the confessions of young people wracked with guilt not because of authentic sinfulness but because of a Church-imposed sexual repressiveness that I was expected to affirm.

Just by celebrating the Mass, I helped enforce the unjust exclusion of women from equal membership in the Church. I valued the community life I shared with fellow priests, but I also sensed the crippling loneliness that could result from a life that lacked the deep personal intimacy other human beings enjoy. My relationship with God was so tied up with being a priest that I feared a total loss of faith if I left.

See a Problem?

That very fear revealed a denigration of the laity and illustrated the essential problem. If I had stayed a priest, I see now, my faith, such as it was, would have been corrupted. Still, the fact that Vatican II had occurred at all, against such great odds, was enough to validate a hope, half a century later, that the Church could survive the contemporary moral collapse of its leadership. That was the hope kindled by the arrival, in , of the pope from Argentina.

Pope Francis seemed to me, in the beginning, like a rescuer. He cradled and kissed the blistering feet of a Muslim inmate in a Roman prison and made a pilgrimage to the U. He opened the door to Cuba and shut down the ancient Catholic impulse to convert the Jews. He has argued that religion is not a zero-sum enterprise in which the truth of one faith comes at the expense of the truth of others. The pope began as a man of science, which scrambles the old assumptions about the clash between religious belief and rational inquiry.

The chemist turned Jesuit is presumably familiar with the principle of paradigm shift—the overturning through new evidence of the prevailing scientific framework. Settled ideas are forever on the way to being unsettled. So too with religion. But he holds to the fundamentals loosely. In his book The Name of God Is Mercy , Francis explores the connection between specifically religious ideas and the concerns that all human beings share.

But today such longing for transcendence exists beyond categories of theism and atheism. Francis somehow gestured toward that horizon with innate eloquence. He offered less a message that explains than an invitation to explore. He has been attacked by proponents of unfettered free-market capitalism and by bigots who despise his appreciation of Islam. Steve Bannon, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, has attacked Francis for his criticism of nationalist populism and Francis draws fire in some circles as the embodiment of anti-Trump conviction.

But inside the Church, the fiercest opposition has come from defenders of clericalism—the spine of male power and the bulwark against any loosening of the sexual mores that protect it. Among the broader community of Catholics, the wedge issue has been the question of readmitting the divorced and remarried to the sacrament of Communion. The issue has sorely divided the hierarchy, and Francis has sided with those who would change the rule. When the Catholic imagination, swayed by Augustine, demonized the sexual restlessness built into the human condition, self-denial was put forward as the way to happiness.

The argument within the Church hierarchy on divorce and remarriage has amounted to an overdue attempt to catch up with the vast population of Catholic laypeople who have already changed their minds on the subject—including many divorced and remarried people who simply refuse to be excommunicated, no matter what the bishops say.

Foreshadowing these events was a letter addressed to the pope—and later leaked—by 13 cardinals ahead of a synod in , warning against any change on the question of divorce and remarriage. Critics such as these worry that a shift in Church discipline on this single question will pave the way—even if Francis and his allies do not quite see it—to a host of other changes regarding matters of sexuality, gender, and indeed the entire Catholic worldview. On this, the conservatives are right.

All of which, again, points a finger at the priesthood itself and its theological underpinnings. That is the crux of the matter. For years, I refused to cede my faith to the corruptions of the institutional Church, but Vatican bureaucrats and self-serving inquisitors are not the issue now. The priests are. My body knew last summer, as the revelations in Ireland provoked a visceral collapse of faith. In Africa, once AIDS became common, priests began coercing nuns into becoming sexual servants, because, as virgins, they would likely not carry the HIV virus.

It was reportedly common for such priests to sponsor abortions when the nuns became pregnant. In April, a bishop was charged with the rape and illegal confinement of a nun, whom he allegedly assaulted regularly over two years, in the southern state of Kerala. The bishop has denied the charges.

The nun said she reported the bishop to the police only after appealing to Church authorities repeatedly—and being ignored. In February, a Washington Post report suggested that early in his pontificate, Francis learned about the systematic priestly abuse of institutionalized deaf children in Argentina , decades ago. The abuse had originally been brought to light not by Church officials but by civil authorities. The deaf victims reported that they were discouraged from learning sign language, but that one hand sign often used by the abusive priests was the forefinger to the lips: Silence.

As for McCarrick, the cardinal was found guilty by a Vatican tribunal of abusing minors and was punished by being stripped of his clerical standing. In truth, this supposedly humiliating punishment meant only that McCarrick would now share the secular status of every other unordained person on the planet. At the meeting, the bishops dutifully employed watchwords such as transparency and repentance , yet they established no new structures of prevention and accountability.

An edict promulgated in March makes reporting allegations of abuse mandatory, but it applies only to officials of the Vatican city-state and its diplomats, and the reporting is not to civil authorities but to other Vatican officials. Worse, he deflected the specifically Catholic nature of this horror by noting that child abuse and sexual malfeasance happen everywhere, as if the crimes of Catholic clergy are not so bad. Coming like a punctuation mark the day after the Vatican gathering adjourned was a full report from Australia on the matter of Cardinal George Pell.

In the Americas and Africa; in Europe, Asia, and Australia—wherever there were Catholic priests, there were children being preyed upon and tossed aside. Were it not for crusading journalists and lawyers, the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests would still be hidden, and rampant. A power structure that is accountable only to itself will always end up abusing the powerless.

A priest did this. That is the decisive recognition. The abuse of minors occurs in many settings, yes, but such violation by a priest exists in a different order, and not simply because of its global magnitude. This symbol of Christ has come to stand for something profoundly wicked.

But the institutional corruption of clericalism transcends that concern, and anguish should be reserved for the victims of priests. Their suffering must be the permanent measure of our responses. Read: Catholics are desperate for tangible reforms on clergy sex abuse. While a relatively small number of priests are pedophiles, it is by now clear that a far larger number have looked the other way. In part, that may be because many priests have themselves found it impossible to keep their vows of celibacy, whether intermittently or consistently.

Such men are profoundly compromised. Gay or straight, many sexually active priests uphold a structure of secret unfaithfulness, a conspiracy of imperfection that inevitably undercuts their moral grit. That such hubristic claptrap came from blatantly imperfect men did nothing to lighten the load of the admonition. I know from my own experience how priests are primed to feel secretly unworthy. Whatever its cause, a guilt-ridden clerical subculture of moral deficiency has made all priests party to a quiet dissembling about the deep disorder of their own condition.

That subculture has licensed, protected, and enabled those malevolent men of the cloth who are prepared to exploit the young. The very priesthood is toxic, and I see now that my own service was, too. The habit of looking away was general enough to have taken hold in me back then.

When I was the chaplain at Boston University, my campus-ministry colleague, the chaplain at Boston State College, was a priest named Paul Shanley, whom most of us saw as a hero for his work as a rescuer of runaways. In fact, he was a rapacious abuser of runaways and others who, after being exposed by The Boston Globe , served 12 years in prison. It haunts me that I was blind to his predation, and therefore complicit in a culture of willed ignorance and denial.

Insidiously, willed ignorance encompasses not just clerics but a vast population of the faithful. Catholics in general have perfected the art of looking the other way. He denounces the clerical culture in which abuse has found its niche but does nothing to dismantle it. In his responses, he embodies that culture. In April he published, in a Bavarian periodical, a diatribe that was extraordinary as much for its vanity as for its ignorance. Benedict blamed sex abuse by priests on the moral laxity of the s, the godlessness of contemporary culture, the existence of homosexual cliques in seminaries—and the way his own writings have been ignored.

But alas, the pope emeritus and his allies may not have real cause for worry. That an otherwise revolutionary pope like Francis demonstrates personally the indestructibility of clericalism is the revelation. He has failed to bring laypeople into positions of real power.

Equality for women as officeholders in the Church has been resisted precisely because it, like an end to priestly celibacy, would bring with it a broad transformation of the entire Catholic ethos: Yes to female sexual autonomy; yes to love and pleasure, not just reproduction, as a purpose of sex; yes to married clergy; yes to contraception; and, indeed, yes to full acceptance of homosexuals.

No to male dominance; no to the sovereign authority of clerics; no to double standards. The model of potential transformation for this or any pope remains the radical post-Holocaust revision of Catholic teachings about Jews—the high point of Vatican II. The habit of Catholic or Christian anti-Judaism is not fully broken, but its theological justification has been expunged. Under the assertive leadership of a pope, profound change can occur, and it can occur quickly.

This is what must happen now. Francis will almost certainly come and go having never reckoned with the violent corruptions of the priesthood. Clerics on the right are determined to defeat him, no matter what he does. The Church conservatives know better than most that the opposite of the clericalism they aim to protect is not some vague elevation of laypeople to a global altar guild but democracy—a robust overthrow of power that would unseat them and their ilk.

But Catholic clericalism is ultimately doomed, no matter how relentlessly the reactionaries attempt to reinforce it. The Vatican, with its proconsul-like episcopate, is the pinnacle of a structure of governance that owes more to emperors than to apostles. The profound discrediting of that episcopate is now under way.

I want to be part of what brings about the liberation of the Catholic Church from the imperium that took it captive 1, years ago. I know that far more is at stake here than the anguish of a lone man on his knees. In North America and Europe, the falloff of Catholic laypeople from the normal practice of the faith has been dramatic in recent years, a phenomenon reflected in the diminishing ranks of clergy: Many parishes lack any priests at all.

In the United States, Catholicism is losing members faster than any other religious denomination. For every non-Catholic adult who joins the Church through conversion, there are six Catholics who lapse. Parts of the developing world are experiencing a growth in Catholicism, but those areas face their own issues of clericalism and scandal—and the challenge of evangelical Protestantism as well. But to simply leave the Church is to leave its worst impulses unchallenged and its best ones unsupported.

When the disillusioned depart, Catholic reactionaries are overjoyed. They look forward to a smaller, more rigidly orthodox institution. This shrinkage is the so-called Benedict option—named for the sixth-century founder of monasticism, not for Benedict XVI, although the pope emeritus probably approves. His April intervention described an imagined modern dystopia—pedophilia legitimated, pornography displayed on airplanes—against which the infallible Church must stand in opposition.

The renewal offered by Vatican II may have been thwarted, but a reformed, enlightened, and hopeful Catholic Church is essential in our world. On urgent problems ranging from climate change, to religious and ethnic conflict, to economic inequality, to catastrophic war, no nongovernmental organization has more power to promote change for the better, worldwide, than the Catholic Church. So let me directly address Catholics, and make the case for another way to respond to the present crisis of faith than by walking away. The Church is the people of God. The Church is a community that transcends space and time.

Catholics should not yield to clerical despots the final authority over our personal relationship to the Church. I refuse to let a predator priest or a complicit bishop rip my faith from me. The Reformation, which erupted years ago, boiled down to a conflict over the power of the priest. Likewise, to introduce democratic structures into religious governance, elevating the role of the laity, was to overturn the hierarchy according to which every ordained person occupied a place of superiority. That is the stance I choose to take. If there are like-minded, anticlerical priests, and even an anticlerical pope, then we will make common cause with them.

Joyce was a self-described exile, and exile can characterize the position of many former Catholics, people who have sought refuge in another faith, or in no faith. But exile of this kind is not what I suggest. Rather, I propose a kind of internal exile. One imagines the inmates of internal exile as figures in the back of a church, where, in fact, some dissenting priests and many free-spirited nuns can be found as well. We are not deserters.

Replacing the diseased model of the Church with something healthy may involve, for a time, intentional absence from services or life on the margins—less in the pews than in the rearmost shadows. But it will always involve deliberate performance of the works of mercy: feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, visiting the sick, striving for justice. It will involve, for many, unauthorized expressions of prayer and worship—egalitarian, authentic, ecumenical; having nothing to do with diocesan borders, parish boundaries, or the sacrament of holy orders.

That may be especially true in so-called intentional communities that lift up the leadership of women.

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These already exist, everywhere. No matter who presides at whatever form the altar takes, such adaptations of Eucharistic observance return to the theological essence of the sacrament. Christ is experienced not through the officiant but through the faith of the whole community. In what way, one might ask, can such institutional detachment square with actual Catholic identity? Through devotions and prayers and rituals that perpetuate the Catholic tradition in diverse forms, undertaken by a wide range of commonsensical believers, all insisting on the Catholic character of what they are doing.

Their ranks would include ad hoc organizers of priestless parishes; parents who band together for the sake of the religious instruction of youngsters; social activists who take on injustice in the name of Jesus; and even social-media wizards launching, say, ChurchResist. The gradual ascendance of lay leaders in the Church is in any case becoming a fact of life, driven by shortages of personnel and expertise. Now is the time to make this ascendance intentional, and to accelerate it.

The pillars of Catholicism—gatherings around the book and the bread; traditional prayers and songs; retreats centered on the wisdom of the saints; an understanding of life as a form of discipleship—will be unshaken. The Vatican itself may take steps, belatedly, to catch up to where the Church goes without it. But in ways that cannot be predicted, have no central direction, and will unfold slowly over time, the exiles themselves will become the core, as exiles were the core at the time of Jesus. They will take on responsibility and ownership—and, as responsibility and ownership devolve into smaller units, the focus will shift from the earthbound institution to its transcendent meaning.

This is already happening, in front of our eyes. Tens of millions of moral decisions and personal actions are being informed by the choice to be Catholics on our own terms, untethered from a rotted ancient scaffolding. The choice comes with no asterisk. We will be Catholics, full stop. As anticlerical Catholics, we will simply refuse to accept that the business-as-usual attitudes of most priests and bishops should extend to us, as the walls of their temple collapse around them. The future will come at us invisibly, frame by frame, as it always does—comprehensible only when run together and projected retrospectively at some distant moment.

But it is coming. One hundred years from now, there will be a Catholic Church. Count on it. This may not be inevitable, but it is more than possible. The Church I foresee will be governed by laypeople, although the verb govern may apply less than serve. There will be leaders who gather communities in worship, and because the tradition is rich, striking chords deep in human history, such sacramental enablers may well be known as priests. They will include women and married people. They will be ontologically equal to everyone else.