here is no returning for the vast majority of bishop members of the Purple Culture, no returning to a time when error or imperfections could be admitted. The assumption of perfection and infallibility has permanently disabled members of the culture from emitting such human utterances as “I was wrong,” and/or “I am sorry.” When wrong or sorrow is obliquely admitted, it comes out with fingers pointed outward as in “certain theologians were at fault.” Those cultural assumptions lie buried beneath consciousness and often creep into prelates’ giving mouth to trivia.
We need not be surprised that a third of Catholics have left the Church in this country. The wisdom gleaned by the laity in the everyday grindings of work and human relationships hones their experience to recognize the basic truths of living and loving. They also recognize the gap between their lived experience and that of the ‘let’s pretend’ experience common to those enclosed in the purple culture. This recognition is especially true for younger generations who have never permitted fear, gathered from teachings and preaching, to gain root in their psyches. Nor do they accept a portrayal of God as more beast than loving creator. The centuries-old instilled fear of damnation is so incongruent with a loving God, they reject it spontaneously. If it’s all about love, then God wants love to motivate us, not fear.
And so these young people go elsewhere – to a more promising spirituality or church.
A recognition of this lay wisdom lies beyond the ability of purple culture members. It will take a tsunami of departures and an inward tsunami of grace to bring about this realization.
We have the answer to another question raised in our opening issue, i.e. why don’t religions get together and mutually promote peace in the world, if for no other reason than our shared acknowledgment of the Golden Rule? The answer is evident. From the position of our Catholic leaders’ views on primacy, there can be no action that would admit a significant degree of validity in another religion. It is a matter of turf protection, and turf expansion. For an expansion example, look at how the Vatican has recently tried to gain Anglican recruits by assurances that the bias against women and homosexuals entering the priesthood is secure within the Roman Catholic fold. It is simply another tactical version of using ‘soup’ to get hungry (bigoted) people into the Church.