*photo from The State Journal-Register | Springfield, IL
Sometimes, I wonder if the Catholic Church is attempting suicide in slow-motion. There was Pope Benedict's recent call to disgruntled Anglicans to "come home" - i.e. return to the Catholic fold, which of course, assumes these people actually left them at some point in recent history (best be careful in assuming that the 16th century is recent history). There have been the repeated efforts to diminish, minimize, and punish the GLBT community, especially those who actually practice within the Church. Even though sex scandals and attrition have significantly decreased the number of men interested in priesthood and Catholic monastic communities, Church leadership continues to hold on to the view that only celibate men can become leaders in the church. Women continue to be second-class citizens in many facets of church life, and there has been an on-going "investigation" - read as "witch-hunt" - occurring amongst communities of liberal and progressive nuns who are, in my experience, actually doing their best to truly live Jesus' teachings of love, compassion, and justice. And now, this little gem, from Paul Lynch's Zen Mirror blog:
The U.S. bishops have issued guidelines that call Reiki therapy, an alternative medicine originating in Japan, unscientific and inappropriate for Catholic institutions. They outlined the position in "Guidelines for Evaluating Reiki as an Alternative Therapy." The guidelines were developed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Doctrine, chaired by Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut. They were approved by the USCCB Administrative Committee, March 24, during its spring meeting in Washington. The Administrative Committee is the authoritative body of the USCCB to approve committee statements.
Where to begin. First, there is the intervention of a religious institution into the health matters of it's members. Second, there is the laughable use of science as a defense from an institution that spent centuries historically damning scientific endeavors. Finally, there is the deliberate focus to discredit a healing method that has attracted a large number of Catholic nuns. A coincidence: I think not.
As far as I'm concerned, this is another example of patriarchal oppression. Why such strong language? Because think about it. Women in the church have learned something that is giving them the power to heal others. People in Catholic communities struggling with all kinds of issues are going to these women, instead of the priests in their churches. Jealous, the male church leadership condemns Reiki as unscientific and superstitious, fearing that it's continued spread will undermine their authority. This probably isn't the whole story, but I'm almost positive it's a large part of the story.
I suppose people out in Buddha-land are happy to not have to deal with such issues, and happy to be part of a religion that isn't so controlling. Of course, that's simply a false happiness, when you look under the surface. We've got out own baggage around these kinds of issues, from sexism in sutras, to male dominated leadership systems. And the way I see it, the longer these issues go on being poked at and massaged, but not really being addressed in an upright and honest manner, the more likely it is that the probable future of Buddhist institutions will be similar to the probable future of the Catholic Church. Everything crumbles to dust eventually, even well fortified, powerful systems.