A fundamental rule of his Catholicism, says Charles P. Pierce, Boston Globe magazine writer (and the guy many may know as the wise-cracking half of a weekly conversation on the NPR show "It's Only A Game") is "nobody gets to tell me I'm not Catholic."
Don't get the impression, though, that this piece, written for this Sunday's Globe, is all wisecracks and fun. It is a deeply moving and insightful essay by a cradle Catholic. It will undoubtedly resonate among many who have had similar experiences and realizations as our lives were shaped through Catholic institutions and practice.
"The sexual-abuse scandal, then," he writes "erupted within a church that already was struggling with serious demographic pressures. The scandal placed the doubts of much of the laity into sharp relief. Many Catholics are out of patience with intramural church solutions that seem to do little more than push the cases down the road and keep in place the sclerotic institutional structure and the paranoid mania for secrecy that allowed the corruption to flourish in the first place.
"And that structure existed not only in the opulence of the Vatican itself, but also in the minds of millions of Catholics, like myself. It still exists in the former. It has no influence in the latter, not for me, nor for many others like me. The institutional Catholic Church, for me, has no concrete form, no physical structure, no hierarchy except that of ideas. Even my attendance at Mass is largely contemplative, the priest presiding in a supervisory capacity, his authority dependent wholly on the primacy of my individual conscience. For it’s not really about celibacy, or female priests. It’s about the source of the authority exercised by a hierarchical priesthood based in Rome."