Catholic Patchwork

@Outsideness has shared an article that argues for the breaking up of the Catholic Church. The author, one David M. Simon, writes:

Splitting the Catholic Church into several or many separate churches is the best way to sharply reduce church sex crime, corruption, and cover-ups. The separate churches would compete with each other for members and clergy in the same way that non-Catholic churches do. The competition would produce more transparency and better practices that would minimize church crime and corruption. Some of the separate Catholic churches would be scandal-free; others would not. But as with non-Catholic churches, both worshippers and clergy would vote with their feet, move to better-run churches, and thereby impose competitive discipline, financial and otherwise, on poorly run churches.

It’s a Moldbuggian argument which goes off piste from there, however, arguing that the second-best way to tackled sex crime in the Catholic Church is to end the requirement of celibacy. “Prohibitions don’t prevent activities. They produce black markets and crime.” Celibacy, of course, applies specifically to adults, presumably. Prohibitions on child sex abuse would surely remain without the requirement of celibacy… Big danger of slipping into weird territory here, mate. We’ll come back to this bizarre point in a minute…

The article continues:

Splitting up the Catholic Church would require the pope and the top levels of the Church’s hierarchy to cede much of their power, but separate Catholic churches could adhere to the same theological doctrines, celebrate the same Mass, and continue their educational and charitable good work. They also could theologically diverge and form different denominations, as Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, and other Protestant denominations have.

The breakup of the Catholic Church could be accomplished in a variety of ways. A “big bang” approach would declare each parish, diocese, or archdiocese an independent church entity and allow the new independent entities to organize into associations, remain standalone churches, or further subdivide. Another approach would call for conventions of Catholics in each nation to organize their churches. Like non-Catholic churches, the resulting separate Catholic churches could end up organized in a myriad of ways. The Orthodox Church has 22 self-governing churches with the same or very similar theology and worship. Protestant churches range from those with a single building to the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Splitting up the Catholic Church, however it is done, would increase competition, produce more transparency and better practices, and accomplish what the existing Catholic Church has proven it cannot: sharply reduce church crime and corruption.

The Catholic Church is not too big to fail. It’s time to break it up. 

I admire the sentiment and the transparency. It’s unintentionally humorous, however. I’m interested in it though, not as a Catholic but because this is something I’ve written about before, in what is effectively my first essay written on the topics that have come to define this blog: “Monastic Vampirism“.

I don’t stand by it all but my initial interest in monasticism, the Catholic Church and Agamben was that I wondered whether monasticism itself could constitute a form of exit? In my reading of Giorgio Agamben’s The Highest Poverty I found a Franciscan monasticism that was proto-anarchist in nature, advocating radical self-discipline over any hierarchical prohibition, use over ownership, and I ended up comparing these outside-oriented communities to the clinic at La Borde made famous by Felix Guattari.

I won’t recount the whole thing, although I’d warn any first-time readers that it does wander around in places (to a fault), but the question remains interesting for me: does the form-of-life encouraged by Franciscan monasticism reveal just where the modern church has — and continues — to go wrong?

Land himself, I assume, remains against monasticism on principle — with the relevant passages where he writes against its practice quoted in the old post also — but is that still the case? Even when thought of as a form of exit from law and the state, and church preemptively?

The church absorbed the monasteries precisely because it did not trust them to function beyond its power and control. For it to fragment now, as Simon suggests, then, does not go far enough. Fragmenting the law does not stop it being the law. Simon seems to argue for something beyond prohibition without considering just how much these forms of competition would undoubtedly require it to remain. He is nonetheless right to suggest that prohibition does nothing to desire — it might even encourage it — but how is that an ethical argument for the prevention of pedophilic sex abuse? It doesn’t work, precisely because it is a form-of-life that is required. The Church has to reinvent its infrastructure even more radically than proposed here to reacquire that.


Update: A further point made by the Woke Space Jesuit:

Really don’t understand the argument of the OP — the catholic church is already lots of literally or de facto seperate churches

To which I replied:

True. It’s very ambiguous about what it wants or why. It just reads like someone who’s read Moldbug and decided to apply it thickly to their own world without nuance.

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