Korey D. Maas on Taking Heed of the Parallels Between the Crises of Yesterday & Today
In the aftermath of what has come to be called the "summer of shame" for the Catholic Church, commentators have increasingly referred to the scandal of sexual abuse and its cover-up as "the biggest crisis since the Reformation," leaving the church "at its most unstable moment since the Reformation." Whether this is entirely true or not, the perception has led at least one Catholic pundit to admit that, "for the first time, I understand how the Reformation happened."
Others, however, insist that "this is not like the Protestant Reformation; it's not," and that "you don't hear that from too many historians of the Reformation." But some historians of the Reformation, including this one, believe there is a sense in which the controversies of the Protestant Reformation might illuminate those of the Francis pontificate (and vice versa), but that the manner in which they do so is easily obscured if the focus remains solely on the abuse scandal. The reason, as Ross Douthat has noted, is that "the church's doctrinal conflict and its sex abuse scandal [are] converging in a single destabilizing crisis."
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Korey D. Maas is an associate professor of history at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan.
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